County Executive Bellone Signs Landmark Ethics Legislation That Strengthens Disclosure Requirements And Transparency In County Government

Amendments to the Suffolk County Charter will Ensure Financial Disclosure Statements be Made Available Upon Request.

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Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming (left), Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (right).

Photo by: Suffolk County

Suffolk County, NY - May 9, 2017 - Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone today signed ethics legislation that will amend the Suffolk County Charter to strengthen financial disclosure requirements and promote transparency in County government. The amendment to the County Charter, which was introduced by Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming, establishes clear guidelines that make it more accessible to obtain disclosure statements that may unearth conflicts of interest by public officials.
Following a public hearing that was held earlier this morning, the legislation (Introductory Resolution 2083-2016), which was adopted by the full Suffolk County Legislature at the General Meeting on April 25, will become law upon being filed with the New York State Secretary of State.
"The public must have confidence that those working in county government are serving in their official capacity without any conflict of interest,” said County Executive Bellone.  “This law will usher in more transparency to ensure that public officials are adhering to the highest ethical standards and are held accountable for their actions.”
“As a former prosecutor, and as Chair of the Ways and Means Committee, I’m pleased to have the full support of the Legislature and the County Executive on these important amendments,” said County Legislator Bridget Fleming. “Financial Disclosure Statements are an important means for the public to know about potential conflicts of interest of those who operate the reins of government.  The revisions ensure that disclosure statements actually work as they’re intended to work, and my not be shielded from the public.”
The new law amends the County Ethics Code to ensure financial disclosure statements are not to be considered confidential. It also makes clear that financial disclosure statements must be made available upon request, whether or not a FOIL request has been made, within 10 days of the request. Lastly, it provides that an Assistant County Attorney will respond to denial appeals.
In 2016 Newsday filed a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request to the Suffolk County Board of Ethics in order to obtain certain financial disclosure statements. After that FOIL request was denied by the Board, Legislator Fleming introduced legislation to prevent such documents from being deemed confidential and made more accessible.