Yesterday Governor Cuomo signed into law the Public Integrity Reform Act of 2011. The new law requires members of the legislature to accurately disclose any outside income, as well as the names of clients. It also creates a new Joint Commission on Public Ethics, which will have the power to investigate lawmakers, their staff and members of the executive branch for legal and ethical violations. Reports will be made public, with criminal offenses passed on to prosecutors. The law also touches on a variety of other issues including ethics, lobbying and campaign finance. For example:
- Lobbyists will be subject to disclosing their business relationships with officials.
- Any lawmaker convicted of a felony could be forced by a judge to give up their pension.
- The Board of Elections must issue regulations clarifying requirements for individuals, corporations, political committees and other entities to disclose independent spending for advertisements or any other type of advocacy that expressly identifies a political candidate or ballot proposal and that is not coordinated or approved by the candidate in question.
When the agreement was first reached in June, lawmakers and the Governor were quick to praise the agreement, though since then, questions have been raised as to its effectiveness.