After watching yesterdays Star Chamber regarding the NYS Theater Institute employee charged by Bridgette Hoolohan (by the way Bridget did you work on that case when you were at the IG? Settling some scores huh?) I was moved to bring my own charges against some PIC employees. This is my opinion and folks should form their own conclusions but since the New York State Commission on Public Integrity (“Commission”) has wholly failed to investigate and determine if there is reasonable cause to believe Herbert Teitelbaum, Barry Ginsberg and John Feerick violated Public Officers Law sections 74(3)(c)(d) and (h), I am doing it for them. In doing so I will quote at length from the Inspector General’s report on the matter. And since the commission has just presented a case against an employee of the NYS Theater Institute on far less serious facts I will use the same form that the commission did for that NORC. Here goes:
I believe Herbert Teitelbaum, Barry Ginsberg and John Feerick violated Public Officers Law sections 74(3)(c)(d) and (h), when they were interviewed by the Inspector General’s office and “Teitelbaum’s and Ginsberg’s demeanor and lack of responsiveness at their interviews by the Inspector General is disheartening. Despite the fact that Teitelbaum, as the Commission’s Executive Director, is entrusted with overseeing the day-to-day operations of the Commission, and Ginsberg serves as its chief legal officer, both shared the same tactic and refused to provide the Inspector General with their opinions or even minimally elaborate on the confidentiality rules which govern their daily professional lives and the lives of other Commission staff whom they directly supervise. As discussed above, the applicable confidentiality statutes, in particular, Executive Law § 94(12), are not obscure provisions of law which only warrant recognition at the Commission in unusual and infrequent circumstances. Rather, as reflected in the confidentiality statements executed by Commission staff, these confidentiality rules pervade the Commission’s operations on a daily basis and reside at the very core of its functional life. Notwithstanding the importance of these confidentiality provisions and Teitelbaum’s and Ginsberg’s respective roles at the Commission, both aggressively professed a logic-defying inability to discuss even a straightforward application of these confidentiality provisions and, when pressed, expressed outrage at the audacity of the prospect that it was rational to assume they possessed a conversational knowledge of these foundational concepts. High-ranking state officials are entrusted by the public with great authority and discretion and correspondingly owe the public a high degree of accountability and candor. Teitelbaum’s and Ginsberg’s testimonies evince ignorance of a critical aspect of their duties, willful obstruction of the Inspector General’s investigation, or, at a very minimum, refusal to cooperate by sharing information potentially damaging to Teitelbaum and the Commission. In any event, their refusal or incapacity to discuss matters well within the core of their professional responsibilities diminishes their credibility and undermines public confidence in Commission operations.”
At the time of their above described conduct they were aware that the Office of the State Inspector General was conducting an investigation regarding the leaking of information by the commission to a target of an investigation. (I took that language from the commissions NORC in the NYS Theater case). Additionally “When the recordings of the District Attorney’s interviews of Hermann and Constantine were played for the Commission, its General Counsel Barry Ginsberg took notes. When the Commission became concerned in July 2008 regarding the District Attorney’s intention to release his files, and with the commencement of press inquiries, these notes then were incorporated into an official memorandum. Ginsberg’s memorandum, significantly, does not accurately report the statement of either Constantine or Hermann. With regard to Hermann’s statement, the memorandum grossly misrepresents a crucial portion of such statement, resulting in the impression that information which Hermann communicated to Constantine on November 1, 2007 was public information rather than confidential information Hermann had obtained from Teitelbaum. The distinction constituted the very essence of the allegations against Teitelbaum. The statement of Constantine regarding a second conversation he had with Hermann is also inaccurately reported, omitting crucial information Constantine had revealed to the District Attorney which appears in Counsel’s notes, but which he chose to omit from his memorandum. The result of such inexplicable omission converts a damaging statement by Hermann into a benign non-sequitur.” In addition “The Commission’s response to the Inspector General’s investigation stands in sharp contrast to the position it took during its Troopergate investigation. The Commission refused to examine its own newspaper files to confirm the Inspector General’s finding that certain information in Hermann’s possession was confidential and never publicly reported, which was a highly significant issue. However, during its Troopergate investigation, the Commission requested that the then-Governor himself search for a particular newspaper article. Similarly, both Teitelbaum, the Commission’s executive director and General Counsel Ginsberg refused to answer basic questions concerning the confidentiality of Commission proceedings. Whether based upon obstinacy, willful obstruction or ignorance, such refusals on the behalf of the senior management of the Commission are inexcusable.” Under these circumstances Herbert Teitelbaum and Barry Ginsberg used and attempted to use their positions as the commission’s executive director and general counsel to facilitate Mr. Teitelbaums attempt to mislead the IG into determining that Teitelbaum had not acted unlawfully or unethically with respect to the use of commission resources an unwarranted privilege for Teitelbaum.
In addition there is reasonable cause to believe Ginsberg may have violated Public Officers Law sections 74(3)(d) and (h) when he directed commission employee Bridget Hoolihan to review the Inspector General’s report to determine if there were inaccuracies about him and Teitelbaum within the report while on state time (you forgot Barry that former commission counsel Steve Hensel saw Bridget doing it and asked you about it and you told him it was none of his business). Under these circumstances Barry Ginsberg used and attempted to use his position as the commission’s general counsel to misuse commission resources an unwarranted privilege for himself and Teitelbaum.
Lastly there is reasonable cause to believe Teitelbaum may have violated Public Officers Law sections 74(3)(c) as “the Inspector General finds that Herbert Teitelbaum’s conduct apparently violated section 74(3)(c) of the state Public Officers Law, which provides that “no officer or employee of a state agency…should disclose confidential information acquired by him in the course of his official duties nor use such information to further his personal interest”; and that the conduct of both Teitelbaum and Hermann apparently violated section 74(3)(h) of the Public Officers Law, which states that “an officer or employee of a state agency…should endeavor to pursue a course of conduct which will not raise suspicion among the public that he is likely to be engaged in acts that are in violation of his trust.”
Based on the foregoing I think the commission could make a case, even now some 2 years later, that Herbert Teitelbaum, Barry Ginsberg and John Feerick violated Public Officers Law sections 74(3)(c)(d) and (h). They won’t but they could and after the NYS Theater case I watched yesterday if they find that poor employee guilty of anything and they don’t investigate their own top staff they will personify the Spitzer edict of do as we say not as we do.
And Mitra its been over a month since you were appointed the chair I hope you have read the IG’s report by now if you haven’t I would strongly recommend you do so at your earliest convenience it will tell you all you need to know about Barry and the commissioners that served back then and are still on your commission keeping Barry employed (what’s that line we all sink or swim together). And anyone thinking that a new ethics bill is the answer read the report and come watch these clowns in action. You don’t clean up the mess that is Albany by buying a new mop you clean it by rolling up your sleeves and getting on your hands and knees with your old sponge and pail of disinfectant and doing a little work. A mop only helps when someone will actually use it.