Tuesday, December 04, 2007

When Disclosure Isn't Really Disclosure At All

Saturday's New York Times reported on Senate Majority Leader Bruno's work for the Connecticut-based Wright Investors Service, which manages the money of several of New York's unions. A spokesman for Bruno pointed out that the Majority Leader, and all of his Senate and Assembly colleagues, are allowed to have jobs outside the Legislature, and indeed, Bruno's ethics reports have indicated that he is employed by Wright. When asked yesterday, Bruno confirmed his belief that his ethics reports are complete.

New York's ethics law forbids activity that creates or appears to create a conflict of interest. The unions represented by Wright have considerable interests before the Legislature; however, neither Bruno nor Wright will disclose what Bruno actually does for the firm. No one claims that Bruno has failed to follow the letter of the law in his disclosures, but without more details regarding his duties and clients, there remains the appearance of a possible conflict of interest.

The Legislature should therefore work to tighten our ethics laws to mandate effective disclosure of officials' business dealings that might create a conflict. In the meantime, those officials who have outside jobs should voluntarily disclose their precise activities related to parties with interests before the Legislature.

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