Gavel lying on an open law book

Investigations and Enforcement

Investigations and enforcement of potential violations of the State's ethics laws and the Lobbying Act.
Investigations and Enforcement
Our Role
The New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics investigates potential violations of the State's ethics laws (Public Officers Law §§ 73, 73-a, and 74), the "Little Hatch Act" (Civil Service Law § 107), and the Lobbying Act (Legislative Law Article 1-A) as they apply to state legislators, candidates for the Legislature and legislative employees, as well as the four statewide elected officials, candidates for those offices, executive branch state employees, certain political party chairs, and lobbyists and their clients. In general, allegations cover a broad range of potential violations of the Public Officers Law, including conflicts of interest, improper gifts, nepotism, failure to file financial disclosure statements, and post-employment issues. In addition, some matters involve violations of the Lobbying Act, including improper gifts, failure to register as a lobbyists, and failure to submit required filings.
Public Information
New Communications Policy on Investigations

At its July 2021 meeting, the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (“Commission”) approved a new communications policy to authorize the release of information about the status of investigations in limited circumstances. The policy was set as part of an effort to improve public awareness of Commission activities and address or correct inaccuracies in the public arena about those activities.

Under this new policy, the Commission has authorized staff, when the existence of a complaint or matter is already public and certain other conditions are met, to:

  • Publicly acknowledge receipt of a complaint (the complaint itself, including the identity of the complainant if not public, remains a confidential record and cannot be disclosed);
  • Publicly acknowledge that a matter is pending before JCOPE for the duration of the matter;
  • Publicly acknowledge that a matter is no longer pending before JCOPE after it has been closed for any reason; and
  • Publicly acknowledge if the Commission has received a request from law enforcement to defer its inquiry in a matter.

The Commission must still rigorously adhere to the confidentiality provisions in Executive Law, but it hopes that this will improve understand of its process and activities.  

Ways An Investigation Can Begin
JCOPE's Own Initiative

Information or allegations obtained by the Commission through the media, internal audits, or other public sources. 

Complaints

May be made orally through our hotline at 800-87-ETHICS (873-8442) or in written form through a tip, electronic mail, regular mail, courier service, in person, or on a complaint form (as provided on this website) by any person. Complaints can be anonymous. 

Formal Referral

A referral from a government entity containing information or allegations that may constitute a violation of the laws under the Commission's jurisdiction.

Areas of Interest
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Operations Reduction
Contacting JCOPE During COVID-19 Response
Due to the ongoing response to COVID-19 (the novel coronavirus), JCOPE's operations will be reduced for a time. Click the button below for more information on how best to contact us during this period.