There’s a new ethics watchdog on the beat in New York state – again.
The newest iteration of an ethics enforcer, the New York State Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government, succeeds the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, which had been derided for its lack of independence from former Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Sanford Berland was appointed to be the commission’s executive director late last year. Berland is a familiar face in the ethics space as he had previously served as JCOPE’s executive director. Nonetheless, Berland says there are “substantial changes” in the composition of the commission over JCOPE.
The commission is made up of 11 members who serve four-year terms with nominees coming from the governor, legislative majority and minority leaders, the Assembly speaker, state comptroller and attorney general. The nominees must be vetted by the Independent Review Committee, which is made up of the deans of the state’s law schools, before they take their seats on the commission.
Berland touts the “robust system of appointment” as one of the major changes from the commission’s predecessor. Another “safeguard” included with the commission is that there are no “special votes” and a simple majority of the 11 commissioners is needed to move forward on actions.
The commission is also subject to the Freedom of Information Law and the state’s Open Meetings Law, which JCOPE had not been subject to.
Berland argues that the “basic metric” for success for the commission is outlined in the mission which is to “restore the public’s trust in our state’s government.” Berland adds that a sign of success for the Commission is to see “greater confidence” in the work they do in different parts of the government, the media, and society.