Press Releases

 

PRESS RELEASE FOR JUNE 2020 PRIMARIES

 

                                                            Contact:   Evan Davis/518.962.2856

                                                                                                                      Betsy Vorce/917.287.3122                                           

                            

 

 

REFORM COMMITTEE ANNOUNCES POSITIONS ON PRIMARY CANDIDATES FOR STATE ASSEMBLY

 

June 9, 2020 -- New York, NY   The Committee to Reform the State Constitution, www.committee2reform.org [committee2reform.org], has canvassed primary candidates for State Assembly in  key races about their support, or lack thereof, for an amendment to the New York State Constitution (the Anti-Corruption Amendment) that would replace the current politically controlled bodies for ethics enforcement (the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, “JCOPE”, and the Legislative Ethics Commission,  “LEC”) with a single independent body with broad sanctioning power.  A majority of the new body’s members would be appointed by the judiciary.

 

The current structure for enforcing the State Code of Ethics is an embarrassment to the State.  As few as two of the Governor’s appointments to the 14 member JCOPE can veto an investigation or adverse determination.   

The Committee believes that establishing independent and effective enforcement is an essential step to restoring public trust in government and enforcing the principle that no one, not even powerful elected officials, are above the law.   

The Anti-Corruption Amendment also will help to clean up the all too prevalent culture of corrupt pay-to-play and “what’s in it for me” in State Government.  This culture has resulted in persistent and recent convictions for abusing government office for personal gain:United States v. Silver (May, 2018), United States v. Percoco (March, 2018), United States v. Kaleyeros (July, 2018), United States v. Skelos (July, 2018).  Ethics enforcement is the first line of defense against criminal corruption.

 

The Anti-Corruption Amendment has been introduced in both Houses of the Legislature.  A majority of the members of the Senate are Co-Sponsors. 

 

However, in the Assembly, that percentage of support is only 20 percent.  That is why this canvassing has focused on members of the Assembly.  Canvassing will be continued once the general election ballot has been solidified.

 

Candidates were asked whether, if elected, they would become a co-sponsor of the Anti-Corruption Amendment.  They were told that if they failed to respond, they would be recorded as Will Not Commit to Co-Sponsoring the Anti-Corruption Amendment.

 

 Based on these responses, the Committee makes the following Assembly recommendations to primary voters:

 

  • Support incumbents running in primaries who were already co-sponsors of the Anti-Corruption Amendment prior to this canvassing

 

DISTRICT 36

Aravella Simotas 

 

DISTRICT 38

Michael Miller

 

DISTRICT 39

Catalina Cruz

 

DISTRICT 43

Diana Richardson

 

DISTRICT 51

Felix Ortiz

 

DISTRICT 57

Walter Mosley

 

DISTRICT 73

Dan Quart

 

DISTRICT 81

Jeffrey Dinowitz

 

DISTRICT 88

Amy Paulin

 

DISTRICT 101

John McDonald

 

  • Support or Do Not Support Candidates in  Other Key Primary Races As Indicated Below.

 

 

DISTRICT 2

 

Laura Jens-Smith  -- WILL CO-SPONSOR: SUPPORT

William Schleisner  --  WILL CO-SPONSOR: SUPPORT

 

DISTRICT 24

 

David Weprin  --  Will Not Commit to Co-Sponsoring the Anti-Corruption Amendment: DO NOT SUPPORT

Albert Baldeo   -- WILL CO-SPONSOR: SUPPORT

Mahfuzul Islam  --  WILL CO-SPONSOR: SUPPORT

 

DISTRICT 31

 

Khaleel Anderson  --  WILL CO-SPONSOR: SUPPORT

Tavia Blakley (unable to contact)

Richard David  --  WILL CO-SPONSOR: SUPPORT

Lisa George  --  WILL CO-SPONSOR: SUPPORT

Shea Uzoigwe  --  WILL CO-SPONSOR: SUPPORT

 

DISTRICT 34

 

Michael DenDekker  --  WILL CO-SPONSOR: SUPPORT

                          Joy Chowdhury – Will Not Commit to Co-Sponsoring the Anti-Corruption Amendment: DO NOT SUPPORT

Angel Cruz (unable to contact)

Jessica Gomzalez-Rojas  --  WILL CO-SPONSOR: SUPPORT

Nuala O’Doherty-Naranjo  --  WILL CO-SPONSOR: SUPPORT

 

DISTRICT 37

 

Catherine Nolan  --  WILL CO-SPONSOR: SUPPORT

Mary Jobaida  --  WILL CO-SPONSOR: SUPPORT

Danielle Brecker  --  WILL CO-SPONSOR: SUPPORT

 

DISTRICT 40

 

Ron Kim  -- Will Not Commit to Co-Sponsoring the Anti-Corruption Amendment: DO NOT SUPPORT

Steven Lee -- Will Not Commit to Co-Sponsoring the Anti-Corruption Amendment: DO NOT SUPPORT

 

 

DISTRICT 50

 

Joseph Lentol  --  WILL CO-SPONSOR: SUPPORT

Emily Gallagher  --  WILL CO-SPONSOR: SUPPORT

 

DISTRICT 56

 

Justin Cohen -- WILL CO-SPONSOR: SUPPORT

Stefani Zinerman  ‑‑ Will Not Commit to Co-Sponsoring the Anti-Corruption Amendment: DO NOT SUPPORT

 

DISTRICT 65

 

Yuh-Line Niou  --  WILL CO-SPONSOR: SUPPORT

Grace Lee  --  WILL CO-SPONSOR: SUPPORT

 

DISTRICT 68

 

Robert Rodriguez -- Will Not Commit to Co-Sponsoring the Anti-Corruption Amendment: DO NOT SUPPORT

Tamika Mapp  --   Will Not Commit to Co-Sponsoring the Anti-Corruption Amendment: DO NOT SUPPORT

 

DISTRICT 87

 

Karines Reyes  --  WILL CO-SPONSOR: SUPPORT

Garfield Holland  --  WILL CO-SPONSOR: SUPPORT

 

DISTRICT 91

 

Steven Otis  --  WILL CO-SPONSOR: SUPPORT

                                                                                   Meg Cameron  -- WILL CO-SPONSOR: SUPPORT

 

DISTRICT 92

 

Thomas Abinanti  --  Will Not Commit to Co-Sponsoring the Anti-Corruption Amendment: DO NOT SUPPORT

Jennifer Williams  --  WILL CO-SPONSOR: SUPPORT

 

DISTRICT 93

 

Kristen Browde  --  WILL CO-SPONSOR: SUPPORT

Chris Burdick  --  WILL CO-SPONSOR: SUPPORT

Jeremiah Frei-Pesrson  --  WILL CO-SPONSOR: SUPPORT

Mark Jaffe  --  Will Not Commit to Co-Sponsoring the Anti-Corruption Amendment: DO NOT SUPPORT

Alexander Rothimayr  --  WILL CO-SPONSOR: SUPPORT

 

DISTRICT 125

 

Sujata Gibson  --  WILL CO-SPONSOR: SUPPORT

Beau Harbin  --  WILL CO-SPONSOR: SUPPORT

Lisa Hoeschele  --  WILL CO-SPONSOR: SUPPORT

Anna Kelles  --  WILL CO-SPONSOR: SUPPORT

Jason Leifer  --  WILL CO-SPONSOR: SUPPORT

Seph Murtagh  --  WILL CO-SPONSOR: SUPPORT

 

DISTRICT 134

 

Carolyn Carrol -- WILL CO-SPONSOR: SUPPORT

Dylan Dailor  --  WILL CO-SPONSOR: SUPPORT

 

DISTRICT 136

 

Sarah Clark  --  WILL CO-SPONSOR: SUPPORT

Nelson Lopatin  --  WILL CO-SPONSOR: SUPPORT

Justin Wilcox  --  WILL CO-SPONSOR: SUPPORT

 

DISTRICT 137

 

Ernest Flagler  --  Will Not Commit to Co-Sponsoring the Anti-Corruption Amendment: DO NOT SUPPORT

Ann Lewis  --  Will Not Commit to Co-Sponsoring the Anti-Corruption Amendment: DO NOT SUPPORT

Silvano Orsi  --  Will Not Commit to Co-Sponsoring the Anti-Corruption Amendment: DO NOT SUPPORT

Demond Meeks --  Will Not Commit to Co-Sponsoring the Anti-Corruption Amendment: DO NOT SUPPORT

 

DISTRICT 138

 

Harry Bronson  --  WILL CO-SPONSOR: SUPPORT

Alex Yudelson  --  WILL CO-SPONSOR: SUPPORT

 

DISTRICT 140

 

William Conrad  --  Will Not Commit to Co-Sponsoring the Anti-Corruption Amendment: DO NOT SUPPORT

Kevin Stocker  --  Will Not Commit to Co-Sponsoring the Anti-Corruption Amendment: DO NOT SUPPORT

 

ABOUT THE COMMITTEE

 

The Committee to Reform the State Constitution, www.committee2reform.org [committee2reform.org], was formed to help elect candidates for state office in New York who will advocate for needed reforms, including replacing the State’s ineffective, partisan and politically-controlled ethics enforcement mechanisms with a constitutionally established independent agency modeled on the Commission on Judicial Conduct, which has a track record of independence and effectiveness.   The Committee is a member of the JCOPE MUST GO Coalition. The other members are the Campbell Public Affairs Institute; Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University; Carey Institute for Government Reform; Wagner College; Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity, Columbia Law School; Committee on Government Ethics and State Affairs, New York City Bar Association; Common Cause/New York; League of Women Voters of the State of New York; Reinvent Albany; Sexual Harassment Working Group;  and the New York Public Interest Research Group.

 

The only way this needed reform will occur is through voter pressure at the ballot box.  The Committee is registered as an independent expenditure committee with the New York State Board of Elections to urge voters to oppose candidates who are unwilling to support the Anti-Corruption Amendment or a substantially equivalent reform.  The Committee is canvassing candidates for legislative office to determine their position on the Anti-Corruption Amendment.

 

             BACKGROUND ON THE ANTI-CORRUPTION AMENDMENT

 

New York is the only state where the ethics commission does not operate by majority vote.  Incredibly two (2) of the Governor’s appointees to the 14 member JCOPE can veto and investigation or a finding of violation, as can three (3) of the appointees of the legislative leaders.  The Integrity Commission created by the Anti-Corruption Amendment would operate by majority vote.

 

New York is also marked by its division of ethics enforcement responsibility.   JCOPE can find a violation by executive branch officials or employees and impose a fine but only the LEC can find a violation by or fine a legislative branch official or employee.  The LEC may reject JCOPE’s interpretation of the law.  In all cases, discipline (admonishment, censure, demotion, suspension or removal) is left to the discretion of the entity in which the official or employee works.   The Integrity Commission would have full discipline authority over both branches except that the Legislature could overrule censure[1] or removal of an elected official.   A constitutional amendment is needed to create a single enforcement body with full sanctioning power.

 

Nearly half the states give the responsibility for enforcing the campaign finance laws to their ethics commission.  New York needs to do the same because the State Board of Elections is controlled by the political parties and therefore is not sufficiently independent to enforce campaign finance laws designed to limit the pay-to-play culture.

 

Ethics and other rules barring official misconduct are only as good as the mechanism available to enforce them.  Without an adequate enforcement mechanism these rules exist only on paper without real world force or effect.  “Paper” rules do nothing to combat what far too many see as a culture of corruption and pay-to-play in Albany.

Other key features of the Anti-Corruption Amendment include the following:  

  • A majority of the members of the Commission would be appointed by a branch of government not regulated by the Commission.
  • Unlike JCOPE, where the person appointing a member can remove that member for what the appointing authority deems to be substantial neglect of duty, members of the Commission could be removed for cause only through a process by which a majority of the Commission votes to make an application for removal to the Court of Appeals.
  • Ex parte communications between Commission members and their appointing authorities and related staff would be barred, and no member could have held office, employment in state government or any political party or been engaged as a lobbyist in the three years prior to his or her appointment or during his or her term. 
  • Transparency laws would apply equally to the executive and legislative branches.
  • All state officers and employees would have an ethical duty to report known misconduct to the Commission and would be protected against retaliation.
  • Sexual and other forms of discriminatory harassment would be barred as ethical misconduct.
  • The Integrity Commission would have full authority to sanction officers or employee of public authorities.

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