The Joint Commission on Public Ethics today named Letizia Tagliafierro as the agency’s new executive director.
Executive Director Tagliafierro’s appointment follows a nationwide recruitment effort that entailed advertisements in top legal publications and newspapers, leading to more than 70 resumes received and reviewed. An executive director appointment must include support from Commissioners representing both political parties in both the executive and legislative branches of State government. The Joint Commission’s executive director reports to the 14 appointed commissioners, six of whom are appointed by the Governor and eight by the leaders of the Legislature. The Commission’s members are evenly split among the two major political parties.
“Letizia will be an outstanding executive director. Her leadership skills, integrity, commitment to public service and her diverse background in government made her a terrific choice for Executive Director,” said Commission Chair Daniel J. Horwitz. “The Commission is looking forward to continuing its important role of working to restore trust in our State government. Through increased transparency, compliance training and enforcement, our public officials and those hoping to influence government decisions will be held accountable.”
Prior to today’s appointment as Executive Director, Ms. Tagliafierro served as the Joint Commission’s Director of Investigations and Enforcement. In that role since mid-2012, Ms. Tagliafierro oversaw all investigative and enforcement matters, including the first ever independent ethics investigation of a sitting legislator for violating the State’s Public Officers Law.
“I feel privileged to have had the chance to work with this Commission for more than a year and am looking forward to the opportunities and challenges of my new role,” Executive Director Tagliafierro said. “Compliance with State ethics and lobbying laws are clearly a top priority for all New Yorkers and it remains my goal as a public servant to earn and exceed the trust placed in us to promote integrity in government.”
Before joining the Joint Commission, Ms. Tagliafierro’s career spanned a variety of roles in public service, including eight years as an Assistant District Attorney in Erie County after four years as a Legislative Assistant to former State Senator Serphin Maltese.
In October 2007, after her years as a felony criminal prosecutor, Ms. Tagliafierro was named Special Counsel to the Commissioner of the State Division of Criminal Justice Services, where she served through April 2008. At that time, she took a position as Special Counsel/Public Advocacy Attorney at the Office of the New York State Attorney General in Buffalo. In January 2011, she was appointed as Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Director of Intergovernmental Affairs where she managed communications and coordination between the Executive Chamber and local governments, and served as liaison with other elected officials.
Ms. Tagliafierro received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the State University of New York at Albany and her law degree from the Albany Law School of Union University.
The Joint Commission, created in 2011, was granted broader regulatory authority and oversight than prior ethics and lobbying regulators. Its jurisdiction includes state legislators, candidates for the Legislature, and legislative employees, as well as the four statewide elected officials, candidates for those offices, executive branch employees, certain political party chairs, and lobbyists and their clients. The Commission provides information, education, and advice regarding current ethics and lobbying laws, and promotes compliance with these laws through audits, investigations, and enforcement proceedings.
The Commission also promotes government transparency through the administration of publicly available disclosure filings of lobbyists and their clients as well as all Financial Disclosure Statements filed by State officials.
The Joint Commission operates with a 2013-2014 fiscal year budget of $4.6 million with a full-time staff of about 45.