The Joint Commission on Public Ethics (“Commission”) announced today the success of its enhanced compliance program for financial disclosure statements (“FDS”) filed by State officers and employees, members and employees of the Legislature, and candidates for elected State offices during 2018 for the 2017 calendar year, a program made possible by the rollout of a new FDS online filing system last year.
The Commission receives and processes more than 30,000 FDS forms each year from State officers and employees and other filers whose annual salary exceeds a certain threshold (CSEA SG-24 or $97,448 for 2018), or whose agency has designated them as a policy maker, as well as statewide elected officials, members of the Legislature, and certain political party chairs.
Approximately 15% of required Executive Branch filers were delinquent in submitting their financial disclosure statements in a timely manner in 2018. The Commission issued a total of 5,197 Failure to File to Executive Branch filers employed in 368 agencies who did not file by the May 15, 2018 deadline or within 30 days of hiring, and to SUNY and CUNY academic filers who did not file by the November 15 deadline.
As a result of significant outreach by Commission staff and with the cooperation of individual agencies, by the end of 2018, Commission staff achieved nearly 100% compliance with respect to these filers, with only one who had still not filed by the end of the year due to a leave of absence.
Commission staff achieved close to 100% compliance, as well, with candidates for statewide and legislative office positions. Candidates for State office are required to file within 10 days of the deadline for filing nominating petitions or the meeting of the party committee at which they are nominated.
The Commission sent seven confidential failure to file notices to those candidates for statewide office (i.e., Governor, Lt. Governor, Comptroller, and Attorney General) who did not file within their 10-day filing period. The Commission sent confidential failure to file notices to the 207 candidates for Senate and Assembly seats who did not file within the 10-day filing period. All of the candidates who qualified for their respective ballots in 2018 filed.
The Commission commenced enforcement actions against two legislative candidates which were resolved in publicly available Substantial Basis Investigation Report and Settlement Agreements.
Assembly candidates Robert Porter and Brandon Washington entered into individual settlement agreements, each admitting that he knowingly and wilfully did not file his disclosure statement until receiving a 15-day letter from the Commission. Each paid a $100 fine to the Legislative Ethics Commission (“LEC”), which jointly approved the settlements with the Commission. Both Porter and Washington have since filed complete and accurate financial disclosure statements.
Additionally, the Commission resolved two actions against academic filers who had outstanding filings due in 2017. CUNY John Jay professor Luis Barrios and Bibi Khartoon, a Clinical Associate Professor at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, both admitted to knowingly and wilfully failing to file their 2016 disclosure statements. As in the Porter and Washington cases, each paid a $100 fine, and each has filed a complete and accurate statement.
The penalty for failing to file a financial disclosure statement is up to $40,000 in fines.
Information on the settlement agreements can be found on our website, jcope.ny.gov; go to the ‘Investigations’ tab on the main menu, then click on ‘Enforcement Actions’ from the drop-down menu below it. All publicly-available information about filers who are delinquent in submitting their FDS can also be found on the website; go to ‘Financial Disclosure’ and then click on either the ‘View Candidates Delinquent Filings’ or ‘View Delinquent Filings’ tabs in the drop-down menu below it. By law, the annual financial disclosure statements of the statewide elected officials and members of the Legislature are also published to the website, and can be found at ‘Financial Disclosure’ and clicking the ‘View Elected Officials Filings’ tab in the drop-down menu.