Good-government organizations in New York on Wednesday are backing the selection process for the new ethics commission being set up in state government which is being overseen by a group of law school deans.
The forthcoming Commission on Ethics and Lobbying will be a successor to the oft-criticized Joint Commission on Public Ethics, a panel created 10 years ago that has fallen under criticism for allegations of secrecy and for its commissioner having close ties to elected officials.
The commissioners at the new panel will still be recommended by elected officials in the state. But the law deans will have a role in vetting the selections. The deans will be able to reject candidates for the new commission using character, honesty and integrity.
There will also be background checks conducted by the deans as a way of ensuring nominees can uphold those standards.
The groups, including Reinvent Albany, Citizens Union, Common Cause, the League of Women Voters and the New York Public Interest Research Group, called the plan a good one to ensure the comimssion's ability to do its job.
"While the state's elected leaders, through their appointment authority, have the opportunity to maintain undue influence over the ethics commission members, as noted previously by our groups, we believe that the law school deans’ procedures are important to ensuring that the public has as much confidence as possible in our state’s ethics commission," the groups wrote in a join memo. "We therefore expect that New York’s statewide officials and legislative leaders will follow the procedures established by the law school deans and that the deans approve only those nominees who are, in fact, of 'undisputed honesty, integrity, and character.'"