Presentation on theme: "Government Ethics in NYS GRA Annual Conference 2007 Denver, Colorado Kent Gardner, PhD President & Chief Economist Center for Governmental Research Rochester."— Presentation transcript:
Government Ethics in NYS GRA Annual Conference 2007 Denver, Colorado Kent Gardner, PhD President & Chief Economist Center for Governmental Research Rochester & Albany, NY
Inform & Empower 2007 GRA Annual Conference Overview Procurement Lobbying Law of 2005 Lawsuits secure more disclosure Public Employee Ethics Reform Act of 2007 Campaign Finance Reform The Sheriff of Wall Street meets Big Joe
Inform & Empower 2007 GRA Annual Conference Alan Hevesi, fmr Comptroller Chauffeurgate Used state funds to support a full time driver & other personal assistance for his wife—after having been caught previously Republicans hadn’t fielded a strong candidate; Hevesi wins anyway; resigns in plea bargain with Albany County DA Ongoing Daniel Hevesi under investigation for job at Third Point Capital NYS pension fund invests; Andrew Hevesi gets campaign contribution from CA fund after investment Jack Chartier, Hevesi aide, under investigation for providing state car & other favors to Peggy Lipton
Inform & Empower 2007 GRA Annual Conference Progress on Pork $200m per year in “member items” $3.5b in borrowed funds allocated; add’l $800m appropriated Related: $400m in annual debt service on economic development borrowing Worthy recipients: National Museum of Catholic History and Art in Harlem ($4m) Irish Reparatory Theater in Chelsea ($200k) St. Edward the Confessor RC in Albany ($100k) Christian Airmen in Buffalo Lump sum in budget, secret MOU among leaders documents allocation
Inform & Empower 2007 GRA Annual Conference Progress on Pork (cont.) Consortium of media organizations (led by Albany Times-Union) secured ruling that member items must be disclosed and lined-out in budget Close associations revealed between legislators & recipients (I’m shocked!) Capital pork, despite claims by Spitzer, still not subject to same level of scrutiny
Inform & Empower 2007 GRA Annual Conference Progress on Empire Zones VERY generous benefits for economic development projects meeting specific criteria Key provision: % tax credit driven by % increase in employment Reporting? What reporting?? Syracuse Post-Standard sues NYS & wins Reveals millions to established firms—including several very prominent law firms—who claimed “new company” status then increased employment 100% (“shirt changers”)
Inform & Empower 2007 GRA Annual Conference Procurement Lobbying Law of 2005 Lobbying law previously applied only to lobbying of NYS legislature—not state agencies Established reporting requirements both for covered entities and private firms seeking contracts Affected entities include both state agencies and state/local authorities Purpose To limit undue influence on procurement process To improve ability of small & MWBE firms to compete for state contracts
Inform & Empower 2007 GRA Annual Conference Procurement Lobbying Law of 2005 (cont.) Advisory Council on Procurement Lobbying established to assess effectiveness of law CGR engaged to conduct a survey of affected public entities and businesses Firms receiving contracts with state agencies since enactment Certified MWBE firms Firms receiving NYS Contract Reporter Findings 1/3 public entities thought it did not apply to them 50% of business firms hadn’t heard of the law Businesses doing regular business with the state reported that cost of compliance was not insubstantial Conclusion: Did reduce ability of large firms to improperly influence disposition of state contracts; Cost & complexity of compliance probably reduced competition
Inform & Empower 2007 GRA Annual Conference Public Employee Ethics Reform Act of 2007 Strongly supported by new governor, Eliot Spitzer Expanded definition of what is reportable as lobbying activity Establishes $15,000 threshold: Any determinations by public official or entity working in cooperation with public official for disbursement of more than $15,000 of public money (loan or grant) must be reported as lobbying Definition now includes pork (“member items”) and disbursements under “economic assistance” rubric
Inform & Empower 2007 GRA Annual Conference Public Employee Ethics Reform Act of 2007 (cont.) Re-defines allowable gift Formerly “anything of value” with $75 threshold Now defined specifically as "anything of more than nominal value given to a Public Official in any form including, but not limited to money, service, loan, travel, lodging, meals, refreshment, entertainment, discount, forbearance or promise, having a monetary value“ No threshold—no gift "unless under the circumstances it is not reasonable to infer that the gift was intended to influence“ recipient
Inform & Empower 2007 GRA Annual Conference Public Employee Ethics Reform Act of 2007 (cont.) Commission on Public Integrity Replaces Temporary State Commission on Lobbying and State Ethics Commission Not yet implemented Penalties increased Class A misdemeanor for first offense Can be barred from lobbying for one year for repeated violation Four year debarment available under provisions of procurement lobbying law Adds monetary penalty up to 3x amount not reported (adds to existing fines of $25k/$50k)
Inform & Empower 2007 GRA Annual Conference Campaign Finance Reform Spitzer holds congestion pricing grant, property tax “rebates,” $1B in pork, pay raise for legislators, etc hostage to reform agenda Majority Leader Bruno weakened after July 1 revelations that he used state helicopter to attend political events Agreement reached July 19 after 96 hour negotiation
Inform & Empower 2007 GRA Annual Conference Campaign Finance Reform (cont.) Soft money to be limited to $300k initially, falling to $150k by 2013 “Sham” LLCs, corporate subsidiaries, registered lobbyists barred More disclosure, enforcement, fines Bundling must be disclosed No limits on PACs, LLCs Effective date: January 2009
Inform & Empower 2007 GRA Annual Conference Oops... Troopergate July 23: Atty General Andrew Cuomo releases report on use of state aircraft by Majority Leader Bruno Implicates top Spitzer aides Misuse of state police to monitor Bruno Gather data from state police through sham FOIL Phone call to reporter suggesting he request data What did he know? When did he know it?
Inform & Empower 2007 GRA Annual Conference Troopergate continues Aides (top flack, chief of staff, Homeland Security advisor) refused to speak to Cuomo under oath Albany County DA begins criminal probe Ex-flack hires prominent criminal defense attorney What deal on campaign finance reform?????
Inform & Empower 2007 GRA Annual Conference Still troubling Campaign contributions for personal use Public Integrity Commission appointed by Gov Weak financial disclosure for elected officials (the Shelly Silver issue) Weak conflict of interest rules for legislators Door still revolves smartly for legislative aides Legislators can receive generous honoraria Board of Elections—still 2 and 2 etc
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