ALBANY — Gov. Kathy Hochul named two new appointees to the state’s embattled Joint Commission on Public Ethics, simply at some point forward of a particular assembly the place the group is predicted to debate launching an inside probe into the approval surrounding disgraced ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $5.1 million e book deal.
The governor named Queens Attorney Jose Nieves as JCOPE chairman and Buffalo Attorney Sharon Stern Gerstman as commissioner Monday afternoon — filling two of three vacancies on the 14-member board following a final minute resignation by appearing chair James Dering on Oct. 2 — a Cuomo appointee.
“Restoring trust in government is a top priority for my administration, and that includes strengthening ethics oversight,” Hochul stated in an announcement.
“Jose Nieves and Sharon Stern Gerstman are well-respected and talented professionals who will uphold our commitment to open, ethical governing and help to transform not just state government, but more importantly, people’s image and perception of their state government.”
The pair are anticipated to partake within the panel’s Tuesday assembly, referred to as by a gaggle of commissioners who wish to probably start an inside inquiry into how Cuomo’s e book deal software was accepted final summer time by JCOPE workers and not using a full fee vote.
A supply acquainted with the deliberate assembly stated commissioners wish to know what particulars workers and former chair Michael Rozen knew concerning the deal in July 2020, when Cuomo’s then-special counsel Judith Mogul submitted a request to acquire outdoors revenue.
Dering defined the “special, non-regularly scheduled” assembly was additionally the explanation behind his abrupt departure and he thought the panel’s Sept. 14 assembly would have been his final, in a resignation letter obtained by The Post.
He was alleged to resign Oct. 8, he wrote within the letter, including he already had plans to retire.
Hochul named Dering appearing chair forward of the September assembly after Cuomo-appointee Camile Varlack stepped down final month, shortly after the previous governor resigned in shame.
But the transfer drew backlash final month after Hochul’s announcement as critics argued she ought to have made her personal decide fairly than selling a Cuomo-appointee.
Her workplace later walked again his set up, explaining his place would solely be non permanent.
Dering additionally voted in opposition to an effort to rescind Cuomo’s e book deal approval raised by commissioner Gary Lavine, a Republican appointed by state Sen. Rob Ortt, on the final September assembly.
Hochul’s different new appointee, Randall Hinrichs, a former Suffolk County district administrative decide, additionally voted in favor of permitting to maintain Cuomo’s e book deal approval intact.
When requested about his vote, Hochul claimed she “literally” didn’t know Hinrichs, however was pressed to make an appointment.
The governor has yet another appointment she will be able to make, however two Cuomo-appointees nonetheless stay — Colleen DiPirro and William Fisher.
It is unclear whether or not or not she’s going to take away them from the board.
JCOPE has been criticized for its lack of transparency relating to pursuing ethics investigations, because the panel is unable by legislation to touch upon most of their dealings.
“JCOPE should be blown up and rebuilt from scratch. Until that change JCOPE needs to function as well as it can, and these seem like prompt reasonable picks by Hochul,” stated John Kaehny, govt director of the great authorities group Reinvent Albany.
Gerstman is counsel on the legislation agency Magavern Magavern Grimm LLP and served as president of the New York State Bar Association in 2017-’18.
She was additionally beforehand director of the Bar Association of Eric County and a president of the Erie County Bar Foundation and of the Women Lawyers of Western New York.
Nieves based the Law Offices of Jose L. Nieves & Associates, and earlier than that labored within the Office of the New York State Attorney General as a deputy chief within the particular investigations and prosecutions unit, in response to the governor’s workplace.
He was a captain within the US Army Reserves and deployed to Afghanistan in 2009.
Nieves additionally ran as a Democratic candidate for Queens District Attorney in 2019, shedding to Melinda Katz within the major.
But he got here beneath hearth for his ties to Hiram Monserrate — who was expelled from the state Senate in 2010 after being convicted of a misdemeanor assault cost involving his ex-girlfriend — who helped him through the petitioning course of.
“I hope no one dares re-write history. There was deep involvement, this wasn’t a secret to any of us in this part of Queens. Who did the vetting & messed this up so badly? JCOPE is supposed to scrutinized electeds accused of wrong doing… is this really how we are going to do it?” tweeted Queens Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz (D-Jackson Heights), slamming Nieves’ appointment and his ties to Monserrate.