“It’s disgraceful,” John Kaehny of Reinvent Albany, a good-government advocacy group, said on Tuesday, equating the approvals to “Get Out of Jail Free cards that make it near impossible to prosecute government officials for abusing the power of their offices.”
Ms. Hochul has said that she is considering reconfiguring the panel, which has also been scrutinized for its lack of transparency and structural makeup. The new governor has made the promise of change the center of her administration.
“I want people to believe in their government again,” she said on her first day in office.
Since then she has accepted the resignations of numerous officials who served her predecessor, including Howard Zucker, the health commissioner, and Letizia Tagliafierro, the inspector general. Ms. Hochul has said that she will take her first 45 days to review those currently serving and to “build her government team.” That period ends this week.
The ethics commission’s decision would seem to signal the beginnings of that change. When the panel voted against opening an inquiry in September, it was led by James Dering, a Cuomo holdover. Since then, he’s become the fourth of Mr. Cuomo’s six appointees to take their leave.
Two of Ms. Hochul’s newest appointees, Sharon Stern Gerstman, a Republican, and Jose Nieves, the Democratic chairman, participated in their first meeting on Tuesday.
Mr. Nieves is a combat veteran, having served in Afghanistan before working for the state attorney general’s office and the Federal Aviation Administration. In 2019, he launched an unsuccessful bid to become Queens district attorney. Ms. Gerstman, a lawyer based in Buffalo, specializes in mediation and appellate work and has served as president of the New York State Bar Association. In 2016, she appeared on an episode of the television show “Jeopardy!”