Commission on Public Integrity Settles Cases Regarding Legislative Receptions

Commission on Public Integrity Settles Cases Regarding Legislative Receptions

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 20, 2009
CONTACT: Walter C. Ayres
                     518-474-4418

ALBANY — The State Commission on Public Integrity today announced that it has charged the New York Laborers’ PAC with violating the gift ban contained in the lobbying law when it held receptions for public officials, and provided food and refreshments in excess of nominal value. The PAC admitted to the violation and agreed to pay $250 to settle the charges.

In addition three other entities that earlier were charged with similar violations have admitted violating the law and also agreed to pay $250 each to settle the charges. Those three entities are the Association of PBAs (Police Benevolent Associations), the State Trial Lawyers Association, and the Uniformed Firefighters Association.

The Public Employee Ethics Reform Act of 2007 significantly changed the law by prohibiting public officials, and State officers and employees from accepting gifts of more than nominal value, which the Commission has determined to be no more than the cost of an ordinary cup of coffee. Previously, gifts of $75 or less were allowed, and receptions such as these often were permissible and common.

Barry Ginsberg, Executive Director of the Commission, said, “We have received the names of all public officials, and State officers and employees who may have attended these events and intend to take appropriate further action with respect to any Executive Branch employees who attended. We have forwarded the names of legislators who attended to the Legislative Ethics Commission.”

Copies of the Notices of Reasonable Cause are available on-line at http://www.nyintegrity.org/enforcement/norc.html