N.Y. Ethics Panel Violates State Constitution, Appeals Court Rules

Former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo notched another victory in his battle against New York State’s ethics panel on Thursday, as an appellate court upheld a lower court finding that the body was unconstitutional.

The unanimous ruling by the five appellate judges against the Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government sets the stage for a showdown with profound ramifications for ethics enforcement in New York state.

The state vowed to appeal the ruling by the Appellate Division’s Third Judicial Department to the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals. And while the state is entitled to seek a stay to keep the ethics board operating pending that decision, Thursday’s ruling casts doubt on the commission’s long-term viability.

Gov. Kathy Hochul, Mr. Cuomo’s successor, created the ethics panel in 2021 as part of an ambitious campaign to restore the public’s faith in government after the scandal of Mr. Cuomo’s resignation in August 2021.

Mr. Cuomo has been fighting the panel over its attempt to compel him to hand over $5 million he received for writing a book about his administration’s efforts to fight Covid at the height of the pandemic.

Avi Small, a spokesman for Ms. Hochul, said the governor was “committed to upholding high ethical standards in government” and would be reviewing the decision.

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