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Public Integrity Under Review

July 30, 2010

When it comes to government, we are not conspiracy theorists. We simply don’t believe that there are a lot of elaborate plots and schemes to achieve evil goals. 

Most of the time, it is buffoonery. It is people thinking they are doing the right thing, or doing what they are told to do, without considering the appearance.  Some time later, it occurs to them that the situation doesn’t look particularly good, and then they’ll compound the problem by trying to cover it up. 

What happens next is that the media gets involved and portrays the matter in a way that is provocative, if not sensational. Then the authorities charged with investigating wrongdoing by government officials feel compelled to look into the matter. 

It’s critical that these authorities use good judgment in reviewing these matters. They shouldn’t be hard-asses, but they shouldn’t be patsies. They can’t ignore the media pressure, but they better not play to it either. Perhaps, most important, they must be consistent. 

At issue is the state Commission on Public Integrity. We’ve been very critical of the commission in the past, but now we find ourselves feeling sympathetic to its plight. 

In this regard, the Kaye report identifies a series of obvious violations of state public officers law. In fact, everyone involved could be said to have violated the section of law that says a person “should endeavor to pursue a course of conduct which will not raise suspicion among the public that he is likely to be engaged in an act that is in violation of its trust.” 

What will the commission do here? As we’ve noted in previous posts, nobody wants to see another governor driven from office by scandal. That would be too disruptive and frankly, too embarrassing. And yet, how does the commission ignore this conduct? 

Our sense is that the commission, after enduring a scandal involving its former executive director and actually being voted out of existence by the legislature, has been given a reprieve and a chance to prove itself. And how the commission handles this matter will determine whether it survives in the next administration. 

The commission members are in a very difficult and truly ironic position. They are ones on trial in this investigation.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Hugh C Taylor permalink
    July 31, 2010 11:51 AM

    Let’s say the PIC decided to seek sanctions against Paterson. How long would the adjudication process realistically take? If it takes months and months (seems likely given how slow these things typically go) than it’s not a good use of anyone’s time. Paterson is out of here in December. Flogging this dead horse isn’t real useful. Lastly, the Cuomo people appear to believe the whole ethics enforcement structure is seriously broken. So, it’s a good bet the PIC is a goner in the next administration.

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