Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore said that as the new chairwoman of the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, she hopes to convene an organizational meeting of the 14-member board before the end of the year.
“It’s important in very short order that we have our first organizational meeting,” DiFiore said in a telephone interview late yesterday with Gannett’s Albany Bureau.
DiFiore said she was expecting all the materials — unfinished investigation, bylaws and other documents — from the defunct state Commission on Public Integrity today and would review the information as she prepares for her new leadership role. She said the committee would also meet to consider who will be the day-to-day executive director of JCOPE.
“In the end, of course, my hope and desire and all of my efforts will be focusing on the goal: which is to raise people’s trust and confidence in government,” she said.
DiFiore’s appointment has already raised some eyebrows in Albany because she’s an elected official and raises campaign money — yet she’s head of a panel charged with overseeing the executive and legislative branches, as well as lobbyists. The Daily News highlighted that point this morning.
“There will be no conflict because I will familiarize myself and incorporate every ethical rule and guideline about that,” said DiFiore, a Republican turned Democrat.
Asked if she would not accept campaign contributions from those who had cases or business before JCOPE, she said, “That’s a good question. Yeah, likely. Honestly, I haven’t thought about that yet. And those are all the issues that will come up. But you can rest assured that I will not create over a campaign contribution any allegation that there is a conflict of interest with me.”
DiFiore said she can juggle her myriad roles: as DA of one of the largest and most diverse counties in the state, as president of the state District Attorney Association and as chairwoman of JCOPE.
“I have no concern it’s going to take me away from my day job,” she said. “I run a ship-shape operation here. We’re a prosecutor’s office that’s very effective. I have an outstanding staff. I am a hands-on person here as I will be at JCOPE. And there is enough time in the day to do it.”