Nassau County Executive Laura Curran introduced a bill on Monday that would require the county Board of Ethics to post the financial disclosure forms of county elected officials online.
In April, Curran and Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas unveiled the county’s new financial disclosure platform, which was met with criticism because the database would only be made available to ethics board members and the county inspector general.
The ethics board is appointed by the county executive and the inspector general is selected by the County Legislature.
In the past, the forms were submitted on paper, which Curran said hindered the anti-corruption purpose of the form.
The prior method made it “too easy for vital information about ethical conflicts to be slid into a box, then hidden away in a basement,” she said.
But Joye Brown, a Newsday columnist, asked the county executive, “What’s the difference between the Board of Ethics and the box in the basement if the public doesn’t have access to it?”
If the introduced bill is implemented, only the disclosure forms of the county executive, district attorney, comptroller, clerk and all 19 members of the county Legislature will be posted online.
About 700 county employees who have been designated as policymakers are required to submit the financial disclosure form to the county Board of Ethics. The form includes details about personal and familial financial interests, income, employment, trusts, interest in contracts, investments, gifts, third-party reimbursements, debts and political party involvement.
“In the past, we often had politicians enter public service to do well for themselves, instead of to do good for the people they represent,” Curran said in a statement. “That’s why my Administration has implemented an aggressive agenda to root out corruption and strengthen ethics rules in County government.”
Nassau County Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) said the minority is proud to support the executive’s proposed reform.
“Nassau County residents deserve full transparency from their elected representatives, and the heightened level of disclosure required under County Executive Curran’s proposal adds another important layer of accountability,” Abrahams said in a statement.
Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) said majority Republicans look forward to reviewing the county executive’s proposal and will seek to expand the legislation to further “include every County Commissioner, Deputy County Executive, the County Assessor, and the Chair of the Assessment Review Commission.”
“We will continue to do everything in our power to protect Nassau County Taxpayers, and bring real transparency to government,” he said in an email.