A newly enshrined commissioner of the state’s new ethics panel spoke out via statement today, but didn’t directly address any of the criticism he’s faced over his associations to past lawmakers and politicians.
Ravi Batra, a New York City attorney who represented former Sen. Ada Smith when she was accused of tossing hot coffee in a staffers face (the charges were later dropped), said he’s “grateful” and “honored” to be named one of
15 14 commissioners on the Joint Commission on Public Ethics.
Batra was appointed by Senate Minority Leader John Sampson, a Democrat.
He called out Barry Ginsberg, executive director of the now-defunct Commission on Public Integrity, saying in a brief phone interview that he “didn’t want the stench of Troopergate” on the new ethics board. Ginsberg is still on the state’s payroll, and has been a frequent target of former state ethics-watchdog-turned-blogger David Grandeau.
Batra, meanwhile, suggests Grandeau would be a good pick for executive director of the new panel, a longshot suggestion that would certainly ruffle some feathers in Albany.
He did not, however, directly address the criticism that has been pointed his way for his ties to Clarence Norman, the former Brooklyn Democratic chairman who was convicted of doling out influence for campaign contributions.
Here’s Batra’s statement, in full:
LETS START RIGHT, SO WE CAN DO RIGHT
1. I am grateful to, and honored by, Senator Sampson and the Senate Democrats for reposing their trust in me to discharge my obligations honestly. Ultimately, the honor of being appointed as an impartial and independent voice on JCOPE is only realized if everyday New Yorkers feel honored to have JCOPE bring back integrity to Albany, and beyond.
2. The Public Integrity Commission(PIC), despite many luminaries on board, was a failed experiment. See, the May 13, 2009 Report of NYS Inspector General.
3. I am troubled that Barry Ginsberg, PIC’s executive director has on his own taken over as JCOPE’s acting executive director in violation of law and rules. Only a majority of the JCOPE commissioners can hire him. I am informed by the IG’s report, particularly, pages 152-154. I am also informed by the “Findings” by the same IG’s Report. I for one do not accept any action taken by an executive director JCOPE didn’t hire. I wish Mr. Ginsberg well, and Godspeed.
4. I propose as the first order of business of JCOPE is the formation of a search committee so JCOPE can have the best executive director possible. Some one like a David Grandeau.
5. I look forward to working with JCOPE Chair, District Attorney Janet DiFiore, and am delighted to have a sitting prosecutor as chair. Governor Cuomo’s considered judgment needs to be applauded.