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Introduction

The Commission on Public Integrity, created in 2007 with the merger of the State Ethics Commission and the Temporary State Commission on Lobbying, completed its first full year of operation in 2008.

The Commission devoted significant time to the so-called Troopergate investigation, which examined the alleged misuse of the State police by senior government officials. Two individuals admitted violating the Public Officers Law and two others are at various stages in the hearing process. The Commission was the only entity investigating the matter to charge anyone with violating the law, and was the first to put all of the thousands of pages of relevant investigative documents and transcripts of testimony of all twenty witnesses on-line so that the public could review the evidence. More information about this investigation and others can be found in the “Investigations” section of this report.

This report also notes changes in lobbying activities from 2007 to 2008. In 2008, the number of lobbyists increased 24 percent and the number of clients went up 27 percent. The number of bills before the legislature rose 14 percent and the number of lobbyists active in procurement at the State and local levels went up 49 percent. Although total spending by the top 25 lobbyists went up 10 percent, the amount of total money spent on lobbying increased just 2 percent. The number of rules, regulations and rates pending before State agencies, on which lobbyists were employed, rose 4 percent.

The names on the list of top ten lobbyists, ranked by total compensation, did not change from the previous year, although the order did. However, only six of the names on the list of top ten clients and public corporations ranked by total lobbying expenses in 2007 remained on the list in 2008.

Continuing its mission of advising State employees, the Commission issued more than 150 written opinions, more than any year since 2003. In addition, staff conducted numerous training sessions and other meetings that are described in the section on outreach and education.

Consistent with its efforts to maintain its independence, the Commission became operationally independent of the Department of State, which had provided personnel, purchasing and information technology support in the past.

Like other State agencies, the Commission has had to perform its work with an increasingly restrictive budget, leading to cutbacks in travel and personnel. We have adjusted to these fiscal realities while continuing to fulfill our responsibilities as required by law.

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