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Voters’ right to know

October 13, 2011

The Sullivan County Legislature has been considering a client disclosure resolution that, with common-sense exceptions, would require elected and certain appointed county officials to disclose private clients from whom they and/or their firms receive compensation.

New York State has recently adopted such a law.

At a forum featuring candidates for the Sullivan County Legislature, incumbents and candidates strongly supported a client disclosure resolution—with one notable exception: legislature chairman Jonathan Rouis. While favoring the resolution in principle, Rouis took the position that it couldn't apply to him.

Sullivan County voters (and taxpayers) deserve better than this. We deserve to know, before the legislative elections next month, for whom our representatives are working—in addition to working for us. It's long past time for us to throw light on the sometimes murky intersection of officials' private business with their public powers.

Any legislator who values client anonymity and private practice over openness and objectivity to his/her constituency can simply choose not to serve. Unlike jury duty, serving in elective office is not mandatory.

Joan Thursh
Woodbourne, NY