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Cuomo Orders Ethics Training for Staff, Top Officials

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Jan. 2 (Bloomberg) -- New York Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered all his staff and top state officials to participate in an ethics training program.

“Honor and integrity will be a hallmark of this administration,” Cuomo said in an e-mailed statement. “Top government employees should have no questions, no gray areas and no possibility of confusion regarding what is proper and what is not.”

Cuomo, who said in his inauguration speech yesterday that “cleaning up Albany” is necessary to restore public trust in government, will require the training every two years. His order doesn’t cover the 212 legislators in the Assembly or Senate or their staff.

Former Governor David Paterson, Cuomo’s predecessor, was fined $62,125 last month for soliciting and accepting five tickets to a New York Yankees World Series baseball games by the Commission on Public Integrity. The commission will provide the training classes.

The order “sends a powerful message that Albany’s ethics climate must change,” Blair Horner, legislative director of the New York Public Interest Research Group, said in a statement. “We hope this is the first step on a journey to overhaul New York’s woefully inadequate ethics laws.”

New York’s legislature has fought off efforts to require disclosure of the amount and source of their outside income and be subject to an independent commission with the power to monitor and enforce ethics rules.

Fourteen legislators left office “due to ethical misconduct, criminal charges or similar issues” in the 10 years through November 2009, according to a report by the Citizens Union of the City of New York, a public-interest group.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael Quint in Albany, New York, at mquint@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Tannenbaum at mtannen@bloomberg.net

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