Skip to content
Home » News » Could NY close the lobbying loophole for statewide nominations?

Could NY close the lobbying loophole for statewide nominations?

  • / Updated:
  • Staff Report 

Democratic leaders are pushing to close a lobbying loophole in the nomination process for statewide positions requiring confirmation by the Senate, which has allowed groups and individuals to influence the vote of senators without reporting their activities to the state Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government.

Finger Lakes Partners (Billboard)

The issue came to the forefront following the divisive political debate surrounding Governor Kathy Hochul’s nomination of Hector D. LaSalle as the chief judge with the Court of Appeals. Outside groups campaigned heavily for and against his confirmation, but only one group filed lobbying disclosures. Senate Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris submitted a bill that would mandate lobbying reporting for anyone seeking to influence lawmakers on a nomination that is subject to confirmation by the Senate. Assemblyman John T. McDonald is also expected to sponsor a version of the bill.

Gianaris noted that the scrutiny and interest in judicial nominees have increased in recent history, making it necessary to eliminate the secrecy surrounding influence exerted on judicial nominations. Blair Horner, executive director of the New York Public Interest Research Group, previously commented that it “appears to be a yawning gap in the public’s right to know how special interest groups influence government and it should get fixed.” The current commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government has not previously commented on lobbying for judicial nominations, according to a commission spokeswoman.

The commission recently announced that Carol Quinn will be its director of lobbying, removing the “acting” title from her position. The panel is working on proposed regulations to authorize the issuance of subpoenas by the executive director of the commission and potentially putting together a commission on Freedom of Information Law regulations. The commission is also trying to “eliminate the ongoing backlog” in processing lobbying filings. The commission’s executive director, Sanford N. Berland, expressed concern about the commission’s ability to keep up with providing ethics training and vetting lobbying disclosures, as changes in state law have led to a 10-fold increase in those who need to comply with ethics training.

Categories: New York StateNews