Ten years after its creation, New York's Joint Commission on Public Ethics continues to demonstrate that it was built with faulty parts and deserves to be sent to the scrapyard.
The commission was established in 2011 to investigate ethical misconduct, but it was launched with a major flaw that ensured it could never be fully trusted: all of its members are political appointees. The rules allow whomever is governor to appoint six of the 14 members, which means that two of those people would need to approve any potential finding of an ethical breach by a governor.
It was recently revealed that JCOPE approved Gov. Andrew Cuomo's deal to write a book about leadership during the pandemic, and it appears that Cuomo ignored the rules about having members of his staff working on it for him. The situation begs the question of whether the commission will do anything about it.
The number of legal and ethical scandals currently surrounding Cuomo scream for the need for a new independent ethics agency with true independence. JCOPE has been operating ineffectually for its entire existence, and you won't find anyone outside the governor's hand-picked commission appointees who believe it can be trusted.
New Yorkers deserve a public integrity agency that operates with independence and transparency. The Legislature needs to abolish this commission by amending the state constitution, and we urge lawmakers to get to work on doing that right away.
The Citizen editorial board includes publisher Michelle Bowers, executive editor Jeremy Boyer and managing editor Mike Dowd.