White Plains, NY —  On Monday night the Board of Legislators passed a major overhaul of the Westchester County ethics law, designed to make the rules for good governance stronger and more transparent, with easier to follow forms and ethics training for County employees.

The new code explicitly covers things like the use of county positions for personal gain, requirements related to contracts where employees might have a material interest, prohibitions on inducements to making political contributions and more. The new provisions also will make the annual financial disclosure form that is required of elected officials and other county employees easier to understand and complete.

Legislator Kitley Covill (D- Bedford, Lewisboro, Mount Kisco, North Salem, Pound Ridge, Somers), chair of the Board's Legislation Committee and a member of the County's Board of Ethics, is the lead sponsor of the new measure.

Leg. Covill said, “I want to thank my colleagues for their diligence in reviewing this legislation.  And special thanks are due to my fellow members of the Westchester County Board of Ethics, who worked for a long time to make this new ethics code a reality.

“This new law takes several important steps to encourage ethical behavior in government and ensures that every Westchester County employee knows what is expected and where to turn for ethics guidance.  We have revised the county's annual financial disclosure form for elected officials and others, so that it is clearer and less confusing to complete.  Across the board, this new law increases clarity, removes ambiguity, and draws brighter lines so that everyone has a clearer understanding of what is expected of Westchester's public officials and employees.”

Legislator Nancy Barr (D- Harrison, Rye Brook, Port Chester), chair of the Board's Law and Major Contracts Committee said, “The goal of an ethics code should be to make sure that everyone understands what is expected of them so that they know what is the right thing to do, and so that they can earn, and deserve the public's trust.  Our new code will do just that. It is written in clear language making it easier to understand, and I am particularly pleased that it includes training so that all County employees can be put in a position to do their best for the public.”

Majority Leader MaryJane Shimsky (D - Ardsley, Dobbs Ferry, Edgemont, Hartsdale, Hastings-on-Hudson, Irvington) said, “The subject of ethics reform has been something that has been discussed for most of my time as on the Board of Legislators.  It's a complex thing not just regarding what is required but also how people are trained and how rules are enforced. I want to congratulate Legislator Covill for working so hard on this and pushing it across the finish line, and thank Legislator Barr as well for all her efforts.”

Board Chair Ben Boykin (D - White Plains, Scarsdale, Harrison) said, “Good government starts with good employees and officials committed to the well-being of the people.  We have that in Westchester County.  But having clear ethics regulations and procedures takes it a step farther and makes it a matter of law. This new ethics code is more thorough, more transparent, and more complete than anything Westchester County has had before -- clarifying standards, making it easier for employees to comply, and enhancing the confidence of the people in their government. I'd like to thank Legislator Covill for her years of work in getting this new law drafted and passed.  Thanks too to the other members of the Ethics Board and Legislator Nancy Barr.”

The new provisions make a change to the way members of the Board of Ethics are appointed -- previously all seven were appointees of the County Executive, under the new provisions, five will be appointed by the County Executive, and two will be appointed by the Chair of the Board of Legislators. Because of that change, the code will require a public referendum this November before it can become law.

For access to the legislative history and text of the new ethics legislation visit: at: