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For Immediate Release: 11/16/2016

GOVERNOR ANDREW M. CUOMO

State of New York | Executive Chamber


Andrew M. Cuomo | Governor

STATEMENT FROM GOVERNOR ANDREW M. CUOMO ON PROPOSED ETHICS


REFORMS
All throughout the fall, the most common thing I heard people say was ``I cant wait for
the election to be over. Based on that, you would have thought that Election Day
should have brought us calm and relief to the country.
Well, the election is over, and nobody seems relieved. The votes have been counted
and the winners declared, but the damage from a bitter, ugly campaign remains. The
voters entered this electoral season unhappy. Feelings of insecurity brought on by an
unfair economy dominated. These feelings were compounded by growing doubts about
the integrity of their government to actually represent them as opposed to big money
interests.
The campaign did nothing to allay those fears. In fact, it got worse. Before the race was
over, the campaign embroiled the nations justice system itself the institution we count
on to be the impartial guardian of our democracy.
That fear of real problems, combined with mistrust about the government, is the toxic
combination that this nation now faces.
Sadly, New York is no exception. Our state has suffered a few long years of seemingly
endless scandals at all levels: county governments, city governments, legislative
leaders in the Senate and Assembly, in the judiciary, the NYPD, and even in the
Executive.
Serious misconduct has been alleged and in some cases it has been proven.
These scandals have affected the state from Niagara Falls to Montauk Point.
Democrats, Republicans, Conservatives, Liberals, Independents no party or group is
immune.
I believe this public trust and integrity issue must be addressed directly and
forthrightly. I dont believe in denial as a life strategy. I believe you must face your

problems, no matter how unpleasant, and do your best to resolve them.


It is time for action, not words.
We need to close loopholes and prevent fraud; apprehend wrongdoers, and punish
those who break the law.
The sooner we act, the better. We can take some steps immediately.
Yesterday, the state Inspector General issued a report on mismanagement at the City
University of New York. The report detailed allegations of wrongdoing and a lack of
management controls.
To me, the larger message of the report was that management failed to understand that
taxpayer money deserves the highest protection. Scandal seldom begins with evil, but
with temptation, and temptation usually begins with a lack of watchfulness. Honesty is a
virtue, but in organizations, it is a culture, and it starts at the top, with leadership.
When leadership forgets this, its time to change leadership. I am therefore directing the
CUNY Board to review the entire senior management at CUNY, to evaluate how deeply
this permissive culture extends, and how extensive a change is necessary. Its a new
day. They must also review all the findings in the IG report and propose immediate
solutions.
I direct them to finish their review in 30 days and advise the state IG of their proposed
overhaul. The IG office will offer their opinion of the reforms completeness and then a
plan of action will be undertaken.
There are other steps we can take immediately. The contracting systems at CUNY and
SUNY have become the focus of US Attorney and IG inquiries in the past several
months. To insure more permanent supervision, I will create and appoint separate
Inspector Generals for both SUNY and CUNY. They will be charged with identifying and
investigating conflicts of interest, fraud, corruption and abuse. They will review contracts
and hiring for both improper and illegal actions. They will look for personal benefit to any
executive or legislative employee or improper actions with a third party. They will review
all campuses and all affiliated entities. The IGs will have the authority to bring any report
of improper conduct directly to law enforcement.
I will also appoint a Chief Procurement Officer for the Executive branch. That person will
be charged with reviewing all state contracts, with an eye towards eliminating any
wrongdoing, conflicts of interest or collusion. And just so there is no confusion, I do
mean all contracts. Any contract or agreement that entails the disbursement of state

funds will be subject to review. The Chief Procurement officer will have authority to
review any disbursement from the State Division of the Budget. This will include all
contracts, grants, executive or legislative disbursements. Any question of collusion,
political benefit or personal connections will be thoroughly examined. The Chief
Procurement Officer will have investigative and prosecutorial experience, and will be
authorized to refer problematic issues directly to law enforcement for further action.
I will order my campaign and my party not to accept campaign contributions from
companies once a Request for Proposals has been announced, and for six months
following the conclusion for the winner. I believe the other state offices and the
legislature should do the same and will propose such a law.
Those are the actions I can take under my own authority. But there is more to do. And to
take those steps, I will propose them to the State Legislature. Here is what I will
propose.
To end decades of chronic conflicts of interest both perceived and real legislators
should no longer be allowed to serve two masters. We must enact strict limits on
outside income to end chronic conflicts of interests that have plagued the New York
State Legislature for many years. If youre going to be a public servant, you shouldnt be
able to have other interests on the side. I support the Congressional model of a 15
percent outside income cap.
We have seen conflicts of interest in local governments. I propose the JCOPE State
Ethics Board be given the wider authority to root out conflicts of interest by local
government officials.
Also, all elected officials state and local should be required to disclose all sources of
income earned by themselves and their spouses.
We still need to enact real campaign finance reform, and public financing for
candidates.
We must end the ability of so-called not-for-profit advocacy organizations to elude
regulation and to mock New York Citys public finance system, by allowing campaigns
access to virtually unlimited money from special interests
These reforms will make a difference. But I also want to be candid on expectations. I
cannot tell the people of our state that we can end all fraud or corruption. I was an
Assistant District Attorney and I was Attorney General. Ive handled hundreds of criminal
cases. I have seen too much unseemly behavior to be nave about the power of

temptation. There are more than 10,000 governments in this state with more than
300,000 employees. People will commit venal and greedy acts. They will do selfish and,
frankly, stupid things. We have seen it throughout history. Virtually every administration
in every era has been touched by it. I have seen it myself, and I have been shocked and
hurt by it.
But we must do all we can.
Theres an old saying that locks keep honest people honest. Thats very true. And right
now, New York needs to replace the locks we have with better ones.
We have no higher priority.
When I was elected, I pledged to do my best to give you a government that works--that
gets things done and in which you can trust.
We have made great progress on the first priority governments competence and
capacity is much, much better. Today state spending is down, taxes are down, budgets
are responsible, and we are building a new New York from Buffalo to Long Island. We
have led the nation on marriage equality, responsible gun control, raising the minimum
wage, and paid family leave. We have tackled many tough problems. I applaud the
legislature for their progress and accomplishment.
But the agenda is unfinished. And honestly, no government that does not enjoy the trust
of the governed can said to be a success.
We need to change. It wont be fast, and it wont be easy. But we can, and must, make
this happen.
I understand that what I am proposing would be a massive change. I have no doubt that
the political establishment will oppose it. The legislature will say they have passed more
ethics reform under me than ever before and that is true. We have passed four ethics
laws and we have a tighter system than ever. But it is still not enough. That is
understandable. We do not have the public trust.
These are difficult days for all of us. The issues are not just New York issues they are
national issues. The past election cycle has disturbed many. But as I sit at my father's
desk I remember what he taught me. There is always a simple truth behind every
seemingly complex situation. We just must be willing to see it. The truth is that trust
comes before everything else and it must be our highest priority. The truth is that trust in
government is the foundation of our system and we must restore it.

The truth is this is a national problem, but it's New York States place to lead the way.
As hard as this task will be, I am confident that we will succeed. After all, weve done the
impossible before. Together, we can do it again. When the stakes are this high, when
the cause is this significant, we can do it again.