COIB: Council Members May Give Public Money to Groups That Employ Relatives

The New York City Conflict of Interest Board has issued a ruling saying they’ll permit City Council members to direct discretionary money—known in the business as "member items"—to community groups that employ their family members.

The issue came to light last year immediately after it was discovered that the City Council for years had been holding millions of dollars in “holding codes” and later doling out the money to local groups, many of which employed spouses and siblings of council members.

“A Council Member may sponsor discretionary funding for an entity where the Member’s spouse, domestic partner, parent, child, sibling or other ‘associated’ person is a paid officer or employee only where it does not appear reasonably likely that the associated person will benefit from that funding,” the COIB wrote in their 20-page summary.

The COIB also said Council members can give money to groups at which a family member “is an unpaid member of the board of directors.”

According to the COIB, Council members will not be allowed to give discretionary funds to an entity where they themselves are “a paid employee,” but “with disclosure,” they can “vote on a budget containing such an appropriation sponsored by another member.”

The ruling should come as something as a relief to Miguel Martinez, Maria Del Carmen Arroyo, and Darlene Mealy, all of whom have received critical press coverage recently for giving member items to organizations that employ their relatives.

COIB: Council Members May Give Public Money to Groups That Employ Relatives