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New Ethics Rules Unveiled in New York

By Mark Scott

Albany, NY – New ethics rules for state government employees -- including lawmakers -- were unveiled in Albany Wednesday by Governor Eliot Spitzer and legislative leaders. The new rules would ban gifts and free plane tickets from lobbyists as well as paid speeches.

The ethics reforms would create a new and far-reaching agency -- the Commission on Public Integrity -- that would enforce rules governing lobbyists and employees in the executive branch.

The reforms also calls for a revamped Legislative Ethics Committee to deal with complaints about individual legislators. That panel would be made up of four legislators and four members who aren't lawmakers.

The new rules would ban elected officials from receiving gifts from lobbyists and from appearing in taxpayer-financed public-service announcements, as former Governor George Pataki frequently did. And they would prohibit paid speeches under most circumstances by statewide elected officials, agency heads and lawmakers.

The new ethics measure is expected to be approved by the Legislature next week.