After a Snub, Paterson Proposes a Whole New Ethics Commission

ALBANY—His call to re-make the Public Integrity Commission was not heeded. Now, David Paterson is announcing that he is submitting legislation to create a new Government Ethics Commission with oversight of lobbying, campaign finance and other areas of government.

Paterson was snubbed openly by other elected officials and the gubernatorially appointed commissioners, who stood by their work. Paterson would face a long, rocky, legal road were he to try and forcibly remove them.

There are several unanswered questions: what will become of the old commission? What will become of the man Paterson just named to lead it, Michael Cherkasky? And what will be the composition of the new committee?

Here's the statement from the governor's office: 

The Report of the Inspector General released last week indicates that there were serious leaks of confidential information from the Public Integrity Commission that the Commission tolerated by inaction. I was careful not to accuse any one Commissioner of wrongful conduct; I have no information to indicate that any single commissioner was at fault. However, the Commission was notified of unauthorized leaks and in my judgment, and that of the Inspector General, collectively failed to act but should have. As a result, the Commission has been compromised and its public standing is in question.

"The sad reality is that this issue is much larger than the Public Integrity Commission. The general perception is that the ethics process in Albany is broken and I believe it is. This is the urgent challenge that we in government must address. I intend to submit legislation later this week to create a new Government Ethics Commission that would be independent and have jurisdiction over State government, lobbying and campaign finance.

"Government depends on the trust of the public and must be accountable to its citizens. The public's trust is a function of its confidence that government affairs are conducted honestly, ethically and without conflict of interest. It is my intention to put in place an independent commission structure that will restore the public's confidence in our government."

After a Snub, Paterson Proposes a Whole New Ethics Commission