Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday moved to replace the chairman of the state's much-criticized ethics commission a month after appointing a top official at the panel who came under scrutiny for his ties to former Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Hochul's office announced Jose Nieves would replace James Dering on the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE), a watchdog entity meant to regulate lobbying and ethics in government. Hochul also on Monday appointed Sharon Stern Gerstman to serve on the panel.
The Dering appointment last month raised eyebrows because he had been previously appointed chairman of the panel by Cuomo, who resigned Aug. 24. The commission would later move against rescinding approval for Cuomo's $5.1 million book deal.
Hochul at the time defended the appointment, saying a replacement at the chairman post was needed in order to have the commission function and its meeting.
Lawmakers and good-government advocates in recent weeks have called for a wholesale change of the commission and have it replaced with a new structure with more independence from the executive and legislative branches.
"Restoring trust in government is a top priority for my administration, and that includes strengthening ethics oversight," Hochul said. "Jose Nieves and Sharon Stern Gerstman are well-respected and talented professionals who will uphold our commitment to open, ethical governing and help to transform not just state government, but more importantly, people's image and perception of their state government."