August 23, 2010; Source: Daily News | If he gets elected as New York’s next attorney general, Sean Coffey is going to make it his business to crack down on—maybe even prevent—the kinds of stories the Daily News enjoys writing about. Those are the ones in which politicians get caught doling out money to nonprofits with which they’re already a bit too cozy.
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Coffey says he wants the state to establish a special unit to investigate state lawmakers suspected of conflicts of interests arising from their official duties. The unit would operate out of the attorney general’s public integrity bureau. As a first step, the newspaper reports that lawmakers would voluntarily complete a form listing their connections to any nonprofits eligible for state funding. Disclosure requests would also apply to family members involved with nonprofits, as well as staff who share residences and office space with charities.
Making this information available, says Coffey, would prevent legislators from pushing for support for organizations that later results in troubles when the full connections to the groups are revealed. Coffey says those who choose not to disclose will find themselves subject to increased scrutiny to make sure they aren’t trying to fund projects that would represent violations of public trust. If he’s elected, and the new transparency effort works, we’ll likely have less of these stories to highlight in the Newswire. Or maybe not.—Bruce Trachtenberg