"The New York State Bar Association today applauds the agreement reached by Governor Andrew Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to enact comprehensive government ethics reform.

"By enhancing government transparency and accountability, this measure will go a long way toward restoring public trust in government.

"We are pleased that the proposed legislation specifically addresses a priority identified by the State Bar Association:  enhanced disclosure by legislators and other public officials of outside income from sources having business with the state. 

"Citizens are entitled to know if their public officials have outside business interests that might conflict with the public interest.

"We also are pleased that the bill addresses another concern raised in our January 2011 report: the need for a joint ethics commission to oversee employees of both state agencies and the Legislature, thereby improving the current oversight structure.

 "Government ethics reform is a priority of the State Bar Association.  In 2009, then-President Michael E. Getnick (Getnick Livingston Atkinson & Priore, LLP) created a special committee to develop principles that should underlie any ethics legislation.

"In June 2010, his successor, Stephen Younger (Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler, LLP), created the Task Force on Government Ethics to make specific recommendations. Chaired by Patricia Salkin, director of the Government Law Center at Albany Law School, and Michael Garcia, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, its comprehensive report was approved by the Association in January. During the 2011 legislative session, President Younger led the Association's efforts in advocating for ethics reform.

"Building upon today's agreement, we urge the Governor and legislators to pursue additional ethics reforms.  Among them: enacting the first comprehensive overhaul of municipal ethics in 50 years and authorizing state prosecution of honest services fraud committed by public officials." 

The 77,000-member New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary bar association in the nation.  It was founded in 1876.

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Contact: Lise Bang-Jensen
Director of Media Services
lbang-jensen@nysba.org
518/487-5530