NYPIRG's Blair Horner discusses new ethics law
The new state budget includes an ethics package, that includes more disclosure of the law clients of Senators and Assemblymembers who work for private law firms.
But government reformers say it doesn’t go far enough.
Blair Horner, with the New York Public Interest Research Group, says there are some gaping loopholes in the disclosure law.
Whole categories of law would be exempted from disclosure, including family and estate law services. And they could refrain from disclosing some clients where, making the name public might cause embarrassment to the client, by appealing to a third party, either the state ethics commission, or the Office of Court Administration.
Some legislators are “of counsel” to a law firm, and do not represent individual clients. They would have to provide some description of their work. But Horner says it’s not enough.
“If a lawmaker is looking to monetize their public office, they’ll still be able to do it,” Horner said.
The ethics changes would deny pensions for lawmakers convicted of serious crimes. The provision requires a constitutional amendment. It would also require proof that legislators are actually in Albany before they can collect their daily expense payments.