JCOPE taps another ex-Cuomo aide as executive director (UPDATED)

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The state’s ethics board has tapped a former aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo to take over its day-to-day operations, marking the second time the independent panel has hired from a former Cuomo staffer for the job.

Letizia Tagliafierro, Cuomo’s former director of intergovernmental affairs, has been appointed executive director of the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics, the board announced Tuesday. She succeeds the board’s inaugural director, Ellen Biben, who was an aide to Cuomo during his time as both attorney general and governor.

Tagliafierro has been with JCOPE since 2012 and led the sexual-harassment investigation of former Assemblyman Vito Lopez, D-Brooklyn.

The move was announced by the board hours after it adjourned its meeting Tuesday, and came after it swiftly moved into a closed-door session as one member suggested hiring a national search firm to assist in rounding up candidates.

“Letizia will be an outstanding executive director,” JCOPE Chairman Daniel Horwitz said in a statement. “Her leadership skills, integrity, commitment to public service and her diverse background in government made her a terrific choice for Executive Director.”

JCOPE was created under a state law in 2011 and is meant to be an independent board with oversight over both the executive and legislative branches. Cuomo appoints six members to the board, including its chair, while a total of eight appointments are made by legislative leaders.

At a meeting Tuesday, JCOPE Commissioner Ellen Yaroshefsky made a motion to hire a search firm to assist in the hiring. But she was quickly shot down by Horwitz, who moved the session behind closed doors, saying “personnel issues” should be discussed in executive session.

“I think it’s time we be a little more transparent,” Yaroshefsky said.

UPDATE: Yaroshefsky tells Gannett’s Albany Bureau that she will submit her formal resignation Wednesday.

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