Stringer’s agenda would ban all financial donations and bundling by individuals or entities doing business with the City, appoint an Ethics Czar in City Hall, enact real penalties for those that violate the law, and reform FOIL process to be independent and responsive
Builds on 30-year record of reform — from implementing the first real rules reform and ending empty seat voting in the Assembly to reforming the community board process to end patronage as Manhattan Borough President to fighting for transparency and accountability across city agencies as Comptroller
Stringer: “New Yorkers should be able to have complete faith that City officials make public decisions based on the public interest — not private contributions.”
New York, NY – City Comptroller and mayoral candidate Scott Stringer today unveiled an ethics reform plan to root out corruption and deliver a new level of transparency to City Hall. Stringer’s proposals would overhaul how business is conducted at City Hall and end a cycle of pay to play and insider favoritism that has diminished public trust in their government.
Stringer’s proposals would ban all financial contributions and bundling by individuals or entities doing business with the City, and would enact tough penalties for those who violate campaign finance laws to end what is believed to be significant rule-breaking and non-reporting.
Stringer also proposed appointing City Hall’s first ever Ethics Czar, who would be charged with ensuring that the operations of government are above reproach. In Stringer’s administration, his Ethics Czar would always have a seat at the table to ensure that no lobbyist or private entity is exercising undue influence on policy. Knowing that sunlight is the best disinfectant, Stringer also proposed crucial reforms to make the FOIL process more independent and more responsive.
“New Yorkers deserve complete faith that their City officials make public decisions based on the public interest — not private contributions,” said Comptroller Scott Stringer. “As we come out of this pandemic, there should be no doubt among New Yorkers about who City Hall works for. As Mayor, I’ll break the culture of corruption fueled by big money in politics because I have 30 years of experience cleaning up government at all levels.”
Stringer’s ethics plan includes:
- Enact a total ban on campaign contributions and contribution bundling by anyone doing business with the City or lobbying the City. Currently, individuals classified as “doing business” with the City can still contribute up to $400 dollars to candidates for citywide office. And, crucially, those doing business are permitted to “bundle” — the practice of collecting donations from others on behalf of the campaign — unlimited amounts of contributions. To truly end pay-to-play corruption, those doing business with the City should have no financial influence on candidates for elected office. That’s why under the Stringer plan, all entities and individuals on the doing business list, including all city lobbyists, would be fully prohibited from making or bundling contributions.
- Extend “doing business” list restrictions for one year following conclusion of City business. At present, many restrictions around doing business with the City expire just a few months after a government decision on a land use or other regulatory matter is made — raising the specter that campaign contributions will promptly follow favorable decisions from City Hall. Scott would extend all restrictions associated with the doing business list so that they last for a full year following the conclusion of the relevant activity.
- Prohibit violators of campaign finance laws from doing business with the City. Campaign finance laws are only as effective as the penalties that follow noncompliance or, importantly, non-reporting. Under the Stringer plan, our City’s finance laws would have real teeth. Scott would bar any city contractor that materially breaches campaign finance rules, including the proposed prohibition against political spending and bundling, from doing business with the City again. Likewise, lobbyists who materially breach any campaign finance rules would be prohibited from appearing before the City in the future. These tough rules follow the lead of states like New Jersey, which bars contractors found to have violated election laws. This prohibition will substantially raise the stakes for those who break the rules or fail to properly disclose activity, including bundling.
- Expand the City’s definition of “doing business” to encompass more individuals that benefit from City contracts or decision making, including individuals that finance real estate development. Currently “doing business” restrictions apply to owners, senior executives, and managers of private entities. Under Scott’s proposal “doing business” restrictions would be extended to other parties that clearly benefit from City action, including the major private financiers of real estate development.
- Install an Ethics Czar in City Hall with a mandate to ensure impeccably ethical behaviour at all levels of government. As Mayor, Scott will appoint City Hall’s first ever Ethics Czar, charged with monitoring operations at City Hall to enforce new ethics standards. The Ethics Czar would oversee government interactions with lobbying firms, conduct reviews of major procurement processes, and recommend new policies to prevent ethical lapses. Unlike the Conflicts of Interest Board, the newly appointed Ethics Czar would be at the table for major decision points to make sure the public interest always comes first.
- Enhance transparency by giving an independent authority the final word on FOIL decisions. New Yorkers deserve to have complete transparency into the operations of their government. To ensure that sunlight reaches every aspect of City decision making, Scott will task the Department of Investigations with handling all FOIL requests made of City Hall. Under a Stringer administration, FOIL requests will not be met with indefinite delays or wholescale redactions but will be produced on a strict timeline and with minimal omissions or redactions.
These reforms build off of Stringer’s 30-year legacy of championing good government and ethical public service. As a member of the New York Assembly, Stringer led efforts to end a bizarre practice that counted members as voting for bills even if they weren’t in the chamber and abolish rules that gave lobbyists special access to lawmakers. As Manhattan Borough President, Stringer transformed the process for appointments to Manhattan Community Boards — ending patronage appointments and implementing an independent screening panel of civic leaders and good government groups to vet candidates. Stringer also called for an end to the system of City Council member items that allows the Speaker to dole out funds to political friends and punish political enemies.
As Comptroller, Stringer has relentlessly exposed waste and fraud by government and private actors alike. He has audited the New York City Housing Authority more often than all other previous Comptrollers combined, exposing systemic failures to manage public resources and deliver for residents. He uncovered dangerous conditions for children in our City’s shelter system — from unsafe cribs, to vermin infestations. And he punished contractors who cheated workers out of their wages, barring companies who violate our labor laws from ever receiving another public contract.
Scott Stringer grew up in Washington Heights in the 1970s. He attended P.S. 152 on Nagle Avenue and I.S. 52 on Academy Street. He graduated from John F. Kennedy High School in Marble Hill and John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan, a CUNY school.
Stringer was elected City Comptroller in 2013. Prior to serving as Comptroller, he was Manhattan Borough President from 2006 to 2013 and represented the Upper West Side in the New York State Assembly from 1992 to 2005. He and his wife, Elyse Buxbaum, live in Manhattan with their two children, Max and Miles.