Columbia Law School and New York City’s Department of Investigation announce Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity

August 4, 2013 By Charisma L. Miller, Esq Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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New York City Department of Investigation (NYC DOI) Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn and Columbia Law School’s Dean David M. Schizer announced the establishment of the Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity to study corruption and accountability in government. The Center will expand research into corruption at the municipal level in jurisdictions around the world.

The Center will be a partnership between the law school and NYC DOI, the city’s anti-corruption watchdog and one of the oldest law enforcement agencies in the country. Commissioner Gill Hearn will chair the Center’s Advisory Board, which will include Columbia Law School Professors Daniel C. Richman and Richard Briffault. The Center will be housed at the Law School.

“One of the reasons we’ve been so successful in attracting talented people to City government is that we’ve made integrity the hallmark of our Administration—and Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn has been at the forefront of that work,” said Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. “Thanks to her and her outstanding team at the Department of Investigation, we have not only been able to root out corruption, we’ve been able to prevent it from happening in the first place—creating the cleanest government in City history. I have no doubt that the new Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity will benefit from her expertise and build upon her accomplishments.”

Over the past year, a number of Brooklyn politicians have been charged with various forms of political corruption schemes. New York State Assemblyman Vito Lopez has been accused of sexually harassing female staffers. While Lopez, who represented Williamsburg, denied the accusations, the State Assembly approved a $103,000 settlement to settle some of the harassment claims.   Lopez resigned from office on May 20th.

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Another New York State Assemblyman, William Boyland, was federally charged with mail fraud for fraudulently submitting travel vouchers. New York State Senator John Sampson was charged with embezzlement, obstruction of justice, and making false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

While the Center will focus on abuse of power at the municipal level, a comparatively under-developed field, it asserts that its overall mission is to improve the capacity of public offices and anti-corruption and law enforcement practitioners to deter, identify, and respond to governmental corruption at all levels.

“To be a force for good, government has to be honest and free of corruption,” said Dean Schizer, the Lucy G. Moses Professor of Law and the Harvey R. Miller Professor of Law and Economics. 

Law students will be provided opportunities to engage in the development and the production of the Center’s work, offering them the unique ability to gain broad, practical experience in this important area of the law.

To pursue its mission, the Center will build and strengthen a professional community of practitioners, develop and disseminate resources that inform and support anti-corruption efforts, and position municipal leaders to understand, appreciate, and implement anti-corruption practices. The Center will organize regular conferences for Inspectors General and other anti-corruption practitioners, assemble a robust database of public integrity contacts, and foster an active
peer-to-peer referral network.

The Center will be funded initially for three years by monies returned to DOI in connection with its anti-corruption investigations that resulted in forfeiture proceedings.

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