The Commission on Public Integrity recently changed its view of the so-called “lifetime bar” set out in Public Officers Law 73(8)(a)(ii), which determines whether an state employee is permitted to represent clients before his or her former agency.

This is strange on a couple of levels.  First, the Commission has reversed course just 7 months after rendering the 2010 opinion.  Second, the CPI will go out of existence (to be replaced by the new joint Commission on Public Ethics) 120 days after the Governor signs the new Public Integrity Reform Act of 2011 into law.

In AO 10-05, the Commission found that the POL73(8)(a)(ii) lifetime bar does not prohibit a person who was as an agency’s Executive Director “deeply involved” in the creation of a particular agency program relating to the imposition of fines for late filers.

He asked the Commission whether he could, having left that position, represent clients contesting the imposition of fines for late fees, and challenging the entire program under which fines are imposed.  In AO 10-05, the Commission said he could.

But in AO 11-03, most recent opinion issued by the Commission, they explicitly reversed AO 11-05 10-05 (reference corrected).  The Commission found that the “lifetime bar” of POL §73(8)(a)(ii) prohibits a former DOH employee from performing services related to the amendment or revocation of regulations that she participated in drafting while in State service.

There is still no indication as to when the Governor will sign the measure into law; the members of JCOPE have not been announced.