ALBANY – Chautauqua County’s representative in New York State’s Senator is looking to rollout ethics reforms in the New Year.
Earlier this month, State Senator George Borrello took part in a Committee on Ethics and Internal Governance hearing to discuss reforming the state’s much-criticized ethics enforcement system.
The timely meeting is in the wake of former Governor Andrew Cuomo’s ethics violations.
“I think we can all agree that, number one, everything is broken when it comes to JCOPE (Joint Commission on Public Ethics) and everything needs to be replaced,” expressed Borrello. “My concern really is about preserving not just the independence, but also the bipartisan manner this is done.”
Borrello and his colleagues took part in the wide ranging conversation, which included input from the Executive Director of a New York Public Interest Research Group, who discussed an idea to allow retired judges to appoint ethics officials, since the Joint Commission on Public Ethics does not oversee the judicial branch; therefore making them an objective third-party.
The Senator does not believe allowing retired judges to appoint ethics officials is fair, given their long length of term as well as the control the legislative and executive branch has had over their salaries.
“Ultimately it’s the voters that are the ultimate judge on ethical behavior,” assures Borrello. “They should certainly want to remove anyone from office that isn’t performing ethically and doing the job of being a public servant.”
Borrello likended Cuomo’s time in office as a dictatorship, and hopes that in the future, ethics discussions can be held transparently, without the state ethics body making secretive decisions.
The senator also noted influential state ethics agencies that did not participate in the meeting, including the Attorney General’s office, the Legislative Ethics Commission, the Inspector General, the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations and the Joint Commission on Public Ethics.