Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Ethics bill not the whole package, say pols

(Page 2 of 2)
By Adam Wisnieski

For Mr. Rivera, it doesn’t go far enough.

He said public campaign financing, rules governing donations to candidates during elections, should have been included. He also said redistricting reform — changing the rules governing the drawing of district lines to reflect population change over the last decade — should have been part of the package. 

Mr. Dinowitz questioned the makeup of the new 14-member Joint Commission.

Comprising non-elected officials, six (three Republicans and three Democrats) will be appointed by the governor. Four Republicans and two Democrats will be appointed by legislative leaders.

“I just think that if there’s going to be this commission, it should look as independent as possible,” Mr. Dinowitz said, adding that the commission should allow independents or smaller parties like the Working Families party to appoint members. 

He said the two-party appointed committee was probably the only way to get broad-based support to pass the bill.

Mr. Klein said Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos insisted on this makeup to make sure one party couldn’t conduct a “witch hunt against another.”

The way the commission would vote for an ethics investigation has also been called into question. 

Any two out of three governor’s appointments could block an investigation into a member of the executive branch, meaning that a vote of 12 to 2 in favor of the investigation could lose. 

Similarly, three votes against conducting an investigation into a state legislator could block 11 votes in favor of an investigation.

Although legislators’ will have to reveal more about their outside incomes, Mr. Dinowitz said he doubts it will do anything to prevent ethically challenged elected officials from stealing money.

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