Legislature To Moreland: ‘Demands Exceed What Law Authorizes’ (UPDATED)
Attorneys for the Democratic-led Assembly and coalition-controlled Senate in a joint letter today told the Moreland Commission on Public Corruption they would not provide the panel with further information on legislators’ outside income beyond what existing law requires.
“These demands substantially exceed what New York law authorizes,” attorneys Marc Kasowitz and Michael Garcia wrote in the letter. “All information legally required to be disclosed and relevant to any legimitate inquiry already has been disclosed.”
Kasowitz and Garcia contend the commission doesn’t have the jurisdiction to to demand the disclosure.
“This Moreland Commission is constrained by the Constitutional doctrine of Separation of Powers, and the Legislature’s independence is also safeguarded by the Speech or Debate Caluse. Accordingly, we request that we work together within the existing legal framework to find effective administrative and legislative steps to address public corruption,” the lawyers wrote.
The development could set up the first major showdown between the anti-corruption commission and the Legislature since it was formed since this summer.
The commission, created by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in response to the string of corruption arrests to hit the Capitol in the last year, had requested legislators reveal more information on their outside income as well as their legal clients.
Since the creation of the commission, both chambers subsequently lawyered up, with the Assembly retaining Koswitz, Benson, torres & Friedman. Garcia, a former U.S. attorney for the Southern District during the Bush administration, was retained by the Senate.
The Moreland Commission has subpoena power, but did not choose to exercise it when seeking more disclosure from lawmakers.
Legislators had until today to send the information to the panel.
The letter, dated today, notes the 2011 ethics pushed through by the governor and approved by lawmakers requires greater disclosure that were recently posted on the Joint Commission on Public Ethics’ website.
They added in the letter that the Legislature will provide the commission with “the extensive information” lawmakers have to disclose under the Integrity Act of 2012.
“We agree to provide this information without prejudice to our objections to your request,” they wrote.
UPDATED: We now have the following harshly-worded response from the Moreland Commission’s spokeswoma, Michelle Duffy:
“The New York State Legislature has refused to turn over the information requested by the Moreland Commission revealing their outside clients. As the old adage goes, if you’ve done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide.”
“We believe the legislature’s position is legally indefensible, ethically repugnant, and disrespectful to the public’s right to know. There are a number of avenues through which the Commission can obtain the information being sought, and we will pursue them.”
|Print article||This entry was posted by Nick Reisman on September 20, 2013 at 4:39 pm, and is filed under Ethics. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|