New York State’s ethics and lobbying watchdog, the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (“JCOPE”), released revised draft amendments to its gift and honoraria rules and source of funding (“SOF”) regulations. JCOPE will seek formal public comment on all of these proposed rules. Copies of the new draft rules can be found here.
In January, JCOPE began accepting public comments on its revised SOF rule, which requires organizations that devote substantial resources to lobbying activity in NYS to disclose their sources of funding over $5,000. The revised rules included an exemption if there was a “substantial likelihood” that disclosure would cause harm (to the filer or the filer’s donors). In response to concerns that the substantial likelihood standard was unconstitutionally high, JCOPE lowered the standard. Under the new proposal, a filer only has to show that disclosure would cause a “reasonable probability of harm.” The new standard, if ultimately adopted, likely will increase the number of filers seeking exemption to the disclosure requirement.
New amendments to the gift and honorarium rules also were made public at the end of April. Initial draft regulations were released for informal public comment in February. The new versions, which will be submitted for another round of public comment, incorporate suggestions made by the regulated community. Highlights of these changes include:
(1) clarification that a gift from an “interested source” (i.e., lobbyists or state contractors) is presumptively impermissible,
(2) new requirements to meet the widely attended events exception, and
(3) the inclusion of a bright line dollar amount for determining what is “nominal” ($10).
JCOPE will announce the opening of the public comment periods for these draft regulations through its e-blast service and on its website.