The New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics (“Commission”) announced today that it has issued more than 50 notices to candidates for the State Legislature who are delinquent in filing financial disclosure statements ahead of the 2018 primary election. This was after previously notifying approximately 200 candidates that they had not filed. In addition, Commission staff sent out one delinquency notice after previously sending five warning notices to candidates for statewide office. Candidates for the Legislature and statewide office must file the same financial disclosure statement required of State employees.
Under Executive Law § 94(12), as a first step to compel filers to comply with New York’s mandatory financial disclosure laws, the Commission issues a confidential “Failure to File” notice that provides a minimum 15-day period in which the filer may comply. If that 15-day period passes without the individual filing a statement, the Commission may send out a Notice of Delinquency to those candidates. The Commission must make those delinquency notices public on its website.
The Commission also issues failure to file and delinquency notices when State employees and officials designated as policy makers or who earn above a certain salary threshold do not file required financial disclosure statements by May 15, the deadline for most State employees, or by November 15, the date when academic (certain SUNY and CUNY) filers must submit their statements. These disclosure statements provide transparency so that the public can see what, if any, private interests and activities public officials have that could present potential conflicts of interest with their State work.
After issuing a Notice of Delinquency, the Commission may initiate an enforcement proceeding against the filer. Any individual determined to have knowingly and willfully violated the provisions of Public Officers Law § 73-a may be subject to a maximum civil penalty of $40,000.
A case in point is that of a Clinical Associate Professor at SUNY Downstate Medical University. She recently paid a fine to the Commission to settle allegations that she violated the Public Officers Law by not filing her 2016 disclosure statement, despite having received repeated notices and communications from the Commission over a six-month period. Under the settlement, the professor was also required to file the outstanding disclosure statement.
A list of candidates who have received Notices of Delinquency can be found on the Commission’s website here. A similar list of State employees who have received those notices can be found here. Notices of Delinquency and financial disclosure statements are publicly-available records, and can be requested from the Commission here.