Friday, February 10, 2012

About that Registration…

Pretend for a moment that you are a top ethics regulator.

Someone comes to you and says: “Hey, why don’t you just look the other way on this matter? It’s no big deal.”

What will your response be?

Will it be: “Sure. No problem. Just forget about it.”

Or will it be: “No. I can’t do that. The law is the law, and everyone must follow it.”

If you are a serious and conscientious ethics regulator, you will do the later.

And this is the way it’s supposed to work. Unfortunately, it’s not working that way in New York right now.

Our state’s top ethics regulator, as pointed out by the Wall Street Journal today, serves a dual role. She is the head of JCOPE and the head of the District Attorneys Association, which lobbies on a variety of issues.

The reporter, my old friend Jacob Gershman, points out that this could present a conflict of interest. Jacob consulted several people who basically said that the whole thing was no biggie – that any conflict could be managed.

Unfortunately, Jacob and everyone he talked to missed the key point -- a point that was first made in my December 15th blog:

Neither the District Attorney’s Association nor its head are properly registered to lobby.

That’s right. The association and its head, who also serves at JCOPE head, aren’t registered with JCOPE or COPI before them.

Now back to the original construct: Remember now, you are a top ethics regulator. You’re a serious and conscientious person who is committed to doing the right thing. In fact, you have been quoted in the papers saying that you “always follow the rules.” That’s the way you “lead your life.”

Soooooo, what do you do when it is revealed that you might not have been following the law you’re supposed to enforce?

Do you:

(A) Lash out at the person who points out the problem?

(B) Continue to act as if you’re above complying with the law?

(C) Admit your mistakes and correct the problem?

(D) Quit

I know what I’d do -- but then again, I put quarters in the parking meter.

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