Effective July 8, 2022, New York’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics (commonly referred to as “JCOPE”) will transition to the new Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government. The transition is pursuant to the Ethics Commission Reform Act of 2022, passed during the Legislature’s 2022 budget cycle and signed into law by Governor Kathy Hochul on April 9, 2022.
The Ethics and Reform Act (“the Act”) created a Commission on ethics and lobbying under New York’s Department of State that would be responsible for administering, enforcing, and interpreting New York’s ethics and lobbying laws. While the Act prescribes that all current laws and advisory opinions (including New York’s Comprehensive Lobbying Regulations) remain in full force and effect in New York, the new Commission has the power to adopt, amend or rescind any rule and regulation, procedures for guidance and advice, training, investigations, enforcement, and/or due process hearings. Further, the Commission has the power to subpoena witnesses and compel testimony.
The Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government will be made up of 11 members to be nominated by a selection committee, with three members nominated by the Governor, two members nominated by the temporary president of the N.Y. Senate, one member nominated by the minority leader of N.Y. Senate, two members nominated by the speaker of the N.Y. Assembly, one member nominated by the minority leader of the N.Y. Assembly, one member nominated by the Attorney General, and one member nominated by the Comptroller. The Act establishes an independent review committee consisting of New York law school deans to review of the qualifications of nominated members. Under the Act, members of the Commission will be prohibited from making or soliciting contributions to candidates, PACs, parties, committees, newsletter funds or political advertisements for candidates for the offices of Governor, Lieutenant Governor, the Legislature, Attorney General and Comptroller.
Because the Act does not alter, revoke, or rescind any regulation in effect, including New York’s Comprehensive Lobbying Regulations, there is no immediate impact to the processes for lobbying registration, reporting, or auditing/investigations.