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Disclose conflicts of interest

September 29, 2011

In an effort to curb abuses, the New York State Senate and Assembly have enacted a client disclosure law. This law applies to 48 professions in medical, engineering, law and accounting, to name a few.

The Sullivan County Legislature has been discussing the question, “Should county officials be required to publicly disclose their outside clients?” This measure would enable voters to decide for themselves whether legislators, their appointees or candidates in the upcoming election are engaged in any inappropriate conflicts of interest.

At the September 22 legislature meeting, Kathy Labuda announced that the county’s current financial disclosure form/requirement “is a joke,” implying publicly that it’s worthless. All candidates for office and a majority of the incumbents have expressed strong support for the new measure. We need our legislators, before the election, to sponsor a resolution to bring this to a committee vote. Chairman Jonathan Rouis voiced support in principle, as long as it didn’t include him. He claims confidentiality agreements are needed to guide his practice, but the new state law applies to lawyers/attorneys who also have confidentiality agreements.

County officials, such as Mr. Rouis, have a choice to comply or step aside if they value the anonymity of their clients over the interests of the public.

Ann Morris
Wurtsboro, NY