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Skelos accuses ethics panel of leaking confidential info

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) said Tuesday he's troubled by the news leak regarding New York’s freshly minted ethics panel inquiry of Sen. Tom Libous (R-Binghamton), the chamber's second-highest ranking member.

Skelos essentially said here's the first case for this new panel (the Joint Commission on Public Ethics or JCOPE) and already there's an issue about how it functions. He said leaking a confidential letter sent to Libous is “a misdemeanor.”

“Someone within JCOPE committed a crime by releasing this information,” Skelos said.

JCOPE officials didn’t immediately comment.

Lawmakers created JCOPE last year as part of a legislative package to tighten the state’s ethics laws. JCOPE replaced the state Commission on Public Integrity, which came under fire for several issues — including leaking confidential information.

That there is an inquiry about Libous can’t be surprising.

Earlier this year, his name came up in a tangential way at a corruption trial in Westchester County. While testifying about a separate issue, a former local political operative said that Libous sought a position for his son at the operative’s law firm and offered to help direct business its way. Libous’ son was hired at a salary of $150,000, but later left the firm. The senator denied any wrongdoing and said he made no promises to the firm.

Within days of the testimony, Binghamton Mayor Matt Ryan filed a complaint with JCOPE, asking it to investigate. Ryan, a Democrat, briefly considered running against Libous this fall but decided against it.

Tags: Dean Skelos , JCOPE

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