Strong Public Ethics to Weed Out Corruption
The number of times we’ve seen government officials abuse their positions and betray the public’s trust are too many to count. Government officials are rightfully held to a higher standard, because they answer to the public. When government officials fail to meet that standard, they break the trust they hold with the public and give people a reason to not trust public institutions. That’s why we need strong legal protections and systems to hold public officials accountable to the highest standards.
Giving the Attorney General Expanded Powers to Investigate Corruption
Under current law, the state Attorney General can only investigate cases of public corruption if the Governor makes an official referral to the AG’s office to conduct an investigation, and even then, the Governor still has to approve the use of public funds to carry out the investigation and has the power to audit the investigation as it is being conducted. This is true even if the subject of the investigation is the Governor or a member of the executive branch.
This process, in which the Governor both initiates and referees an investigation, falls far short of delivering the independence and autonomy that the Attorney General needs to hold those in power truly accountable. I have proposed legislation that would grant the Attorney General expanded powers to investigate public corruption that does not rely on securing the Governor’s approval first.
A Truly Independent Ethics Commission
The Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) is a flawed entity that does not effectively or adequately enforce the state’s ethics laws and ensure that government officials are held accountable for their actions. In fact, it’s just the opposite: JCOPE often provides cover for public officials to abuse their positions of power and get away with it without suffering any consequences.
New Yorkers deserve a truly independent, functioning ethics agency that will police the halls of power and make sure no one gets away with corruption or malfeasance. We need an agency that provides transparency into the status of investigations, that respects the rights of whistleblowers and victims of improper behavior, and that is fully answerable to the public. I am committed to reforming the way New York’s ethics laws are enforced and investigated to ensure no one gets a free pass for abusing their power.