Paterson Demands Independent Ethics Panel

Governor says he may veto a bill that doesn't include independent commission

By Jennifer Millman
|  Saturday, Jan 9, 2010  |  Updated 1:17 PM EDT
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Paterson Demands Independent Ethics Panel

AP

Gov. David Paterson won't budge on his commitment to establish an independent ethics commission to oversee state government.

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Gov. David Paterson is willing to negotiate on a lot of issues, but there's at least one matter on which he won't budge: Any ethics panel overseeing the state legislature must be independent.

The governor even said he might veto an ethics reform bill that did not include an independent ethics commission.

Paterson, who railed against corruption in state government in the State of the State address he delivered this week, called for state leaders to appoint members to a commission. Those members would then be responsible for naming individuals to a separate ethics panel to oversee state government.

The Legislature wants to be able to appoint members to the ethics panel directly, which would, in effect, enable them to continue monitoring themselves.

Paterson says that's not going to happen.

"I think I would be prepared to accept a lot of what the Legislature will bring me," Paterson said Friday on PBS' program "NOW," reports the Daily News. "But there's one thing on which I will not relent - any ethics commission has to be independent."

The Senate and the Assembly have already been debating the issue of ethics reform for months.

Paterson has accused the Legislature of being so blinded by their commitment to special interests that they've run afoul of the will of the people.

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