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Legislature unanimously approves Lorigo Ethics Law


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The law was drafted by Legislator Joe Lorigo (C-West Seneca) and is a major step in county ethics reform. The law creates more transparency in local government by holding all county elected officials to a high standard of conduct and enforces stricter penalties for those who do not abide.

“As New York continues to fail to pass significant ethics reform at the state level, I am pleased the Erie County Legislature came together to reach an agreement on creating more transparency in government,” said Legislator Lorigo.

Under the new law, county officials are no longer able to accept gifts greater than a nominal value, threshold was previously set at $75. Only specific exemptions apply, and that includes the following:

-  Attending charity events

-  Awards, plaques or honorary sports memorabilia presented in recognition of public service

-  Gifts from family members or anyone with a personal relationship with the individual

Additionally the law requires disclosure by elected officials of any family members working in government.

The law also prohibits compensation relating to any matter that came before an agency in which the elected official is an officer, member or employee of. This applies a year after an official leaves their position with the county.  An official is also unable to act as an attorney in any legal action brought against the county.

Stricter penalties outlined in the law include a fine of up to $20,000 for failing to submit a disclosure statement or knowingly filing a false statement. Violations of the law can be submitted to the District Attorney’s office and could carry a maximum punishment of a class A misdemeanor, including up to a year of jail time. 

“Using a position of power for personal or financial gain will not be tolerated here in Erie County. The law gives elected officials stricter guidelines about what they can and can’t do, and if they choose to ignore those rules, this allows the county and law enforcement harsher penalties to enforce,” said Legislator Lorigo.

The full law can be viewed here