The Commission was created to oversee, regulate and ensure compliance with New York State’s ethics and lobbying laws. It has broad authority over Statewide elected officials, candidates for those offices, executive branch officers and employees, members of the Legislature and legislative branch employees and candidates, as well as certain political party chairs, and registered lobbyists and their clients. The Commission provides information, education, and advice regarding current ethics and lobbying laws and promotes compliance through training, guidance, disclosure, audits, investigations and enforcement proceedings.
Advice and Guidance
The Commission regularly provides advice and guidance to State officers and employees and lobbyists and clients concerning ethics and lobbying laws. On a daily basis, Commission staff and counsel interact with the regulated community, answering questions and addressing issues in both formal and informal communications. In addition, the Commission periodically promulgates regulations and guidelines to clarify provisions in the ethics and lobbying laws. The Commission may also issue formal and binding advisory opinions or guidance in the form of non-binding informal advisory opinions to individuals and entities within its jurisdiction, and such opinions are posted on the agency's website in redacted form. For immediate guidance on ethics and lobbying-related topics, the Commission administers an "Attorney of the Day" program. To contact the program, call 1-800-87-ETHICS (873-8442) and press "2" when prompted.
Certain State officers and employees, elected State officials, and legislative employees, among others, are required to file annual Financial Disclosure Statements which are publicly available. This requirement applies to policy makers as determined by each individual agency and so-called "threshold filers" who earn in excess of CSEA salary grade 24. The Commission administers the Financial Disclosure Statement filing program, through which it receives approximately 30,000 filings annually, which are subject to random review by the Commission.
The Lobbying Act requires that those attempting to influence the governmental decision-making process in New York publicly disclose information about their activities and expenditures. The Commission administers a statutory filing program through which Lobbyists register with the Commission, and along with their clients, submit regular reports concerning their lobbying activities at both the State and local levels. In addition, the Commission conducts a random audit program of the more than 50,000 reports and registration statements filed annually by lobbyists and their clients.
Training and Education
The Commission’s Education Unit provides a comprehensive and dynamic educational program for public officers and employees, lobbyists, and clients of lobbyists to ensure they are fully informed about the State’s ethics and lobbying laws, regulations, and guidelines. Among other things, the Education Unit developed instructor-led trainings on the State's ethics and lobbying laws, designed web-based programming on a variety of topics, and produced a library of written educational materials which are available on the Commission's website. Ethics training is mandatory for all State elected officials, officers, and employees and registered lobbyists and clients.
Investigations and Enforcement
The Commission is charged with investigating potential violations of the State's ethics laws (Public Officers Law §§ 73, 73-a, and 74), the "Little Hatch Act" (Civil Service Law § 107), and the Lobbying Act (Legislative Law Article 1-A) as they apply to state legislators, candidates for the Legislature and legislative employees, as well as the four statewide elected officials, candidates for those offices, executive branch state employees, certain political party chairs, and lobbyists and their clients. The Commission may impose civil penalties, after hearing, for violations by state officers and employees and lobbyists and clients. Commission findings with respect to legislative branch officers, employees and candidates are required to be referred to the Legislative Ethics Commission for enforcement.