Note: Post has been updated throughout.
Lobbying groups would be required to disclose their significant donors since July 1 under a set of regulations
proposed adopted by the state ethics board today.
Now, the regulations will be published and put to public comment before being officially adopted.
The Joint Commission on Public Ethics debated and passed the new regulations today, interpreting the state’s 2011 ethics law to require donor disclosure from lobbyists starting with July of this year, rather than retroactively. The law applies to the disclosure of any donors of more than $5,000.
Under the proposed regulations, the lobbying groups and their clients will report their donors by January 15, with their report covering July through December of this year.
The draft regulations were sent to members of the commission last night and were passed at its meeting today.
JCOPE Executive Director Ellen Biben (pictured, AP photo) said a “fair and reasonable” reading of the law does not allow the board to require disclosure of donors who made their payment earlier than July. The disclosure provision of the law took effect on June 1, and the next six-month reporting period begins on July 1.
“What we need to do here is maximize disclosure and implement the statute,” Biben said at a JCOPE meeting in Albany this morning.
JCOPE has been in the process of crafting regulations for several months. The issue has gained considerable attention largely because of the Committee to Save New York, a pro-Cuomo coalition group that has blanketed the airwaves and outspent all other lobbying entities the past two years. The group has declined to voluntarily disclose its donors, though several news reports have revealed many of them.
Different groups — and members of JCOPE — have interpreted the ethics law several different ways. Several good-government advocates testified in a public hearing earlier this way, with most arguing that the board can only require prospective disclosure. Others argued that disclosure could go back to last January or August.
JCOPE member Ravi Batra, who was appointed by Senate Democrats, criticized the regulations at the meeting (which
is still ongoing wrapped up this afternoon). Specifically, Batra took issue with the fact that the relevant provisions of the ethics law took effect on June 1, but donor disclosure would only be required after July 1. It wasn’t immediately clear when the full ethics board would vote on whether to adopt the rules. The ethics board adopted the regulations at the tail end of the public portion of its meeting this afternoon.
Here are the
proposed now adopted regulations for the source of funding. JCOPE also proposed adopted regulations for “reportable business relationships,” which can be found here.