I know regular readers are probably going to look at the title and say here he goes again, complaining that New York’s ethics agency is incompetent, partisan, and lacking in independence in short a laughingstock.
But this blog is different it’s not JJOKE that I think needs to change it’s my approach to ethics enforcement in Albany.
I’ve turned into a one trick pony, the Don Quixote of ethics, tilting at windmills.
I’ve been writing the same blog for 4 years detailing one ethical misadventure after another. I’ve been answering reporters’ questions on and off the record providing roadmaps to getting at the heart of the ethical hypocrisy that is New Yorks government, be it JJOKE and Biben or PIC and Teitelbaum. And while I’ve enjoyed some success both intellectually and financially, at the end of the day while I’m in a far better place than I was when Spitzer and Bruno eliminated my job (far better than both of them that’s for sure) and I’ve been able to help nudge Albany to change ethics enforcers and agencies (Feerick, Tietelbaum, Cherkasky, Ginsberg,and the entire PIC) I don’t think JJOKE and Andrews attack dog Ellen Biben are a significant upgrade over the past and in fact some might argue that independent ethics enforcement has never been more endangered than it is right now.
But it wasn’t until a series of news articles over the last few weeks that I realized I need to change how I approach whatever role I choose to have.
In no particular order here are the news snippets that have led to my epiphany.
Our Governor goes fishing and invites the media to tag along. The media take canoe rides on a pristine Adirondack lake and watch the governor enjoy a guided trip to fish for trout. All on private land owned by the Nature Conservancy, a registered lobbyist governed by the Lobby Act and its rather laxly enforced gift ban. Does anyone question why JJOKE is not commencing an investigation to determine if this is an illegal gift?
Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings while answering a question regarding his city owned vehicle being parked at Saratoga Race Track in a very preferred parking spot admits that he was there to attend a party hosted by the AFL-CIO, you guessed it, another registered lobbyist governed by the Lobby Act and its rather laxly enforced gift ban. Does anyone question why JJOKE is not commencing an investigation to determine if this is an illegal gift?
Campaign finance reformers meet with the governor to plot strategy, they are well financed and connected but they are not registered to lobby. Does anyone question why JJOKE is not commencing an investigation to determine if these folks are unregistered lobbyists?
Speaker Silver’s Counsel Jim Yates hires Paul Schectman as his attorney in the JJOKE investigation of Vito Lopez an investigation commenced as a result of the goo goos formal complaint following the governor’s informal complaint. Does anyone question why goo goo leader and JJOKE sycophant Dick Dadey was the media’s choice to comment on the propriety of that arrangement?
The answer to all the above is NO, no one cares or at least no one cares enough to risk the wrath of the folks holding the leash on the attack dog.
And that includes me.
I don’t get paid to do that kind of work.
My clients pay me to be their ethical bodyguard and sometimes their ethical assassin but not to get involved in the bigger issues, those surrounding Albany’s hypocricy.
And that was when it hit me, I can’t help myself I want to point out these ethical transgressions but there is no benefit in doing so.
Let’s see if anyone is willing to put their money where their mouth is.
I’m going to create a not for profit entity to do the job these ethics agencies have failed to do because they are controlled by government. I’ll pay to set it up and get it off the ground. If others see value in it, it should take on a life of its own if not then at least I tried and knowing that there is no support from the public for honest ethics reform has value in and of itself.
Step one I need a name does anyone out there have a suggestion?