Editorial Board: State Needs Stricter Laws To Stop Officials From Attempting Secret Court Settlements | Editorial

Legislators in various states have pushed for legislation to make these regulations public. Among them is New Jersey, whose General Assembly in 2017 passed a measure that would prevent state and local governments from entering into confidential agreements with whistleblowers. The bill has not yet become law.

Former Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley began publishing monthly reports in 2017 on state-paid settlements. Hawley is now a United States Senator, but the Attorney General’s office still publishes the reports.

The publication of comparable data in New York would shed more light on legal regulations and their costs.

The office of State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli maintains a strong collection of data on his Open Book New York site. The page publishes details on state contracts, payments to suppliers, spending by state agencies and public authorities, as well as by localities.

If New York Attorney General Letitia James compiled a public record of government regulations similar to Missouri’s, she would be doing a valuable public service. James is a Democrat in a Democratic-controlled state and is also running for governor. Presenting the settlements in light of public scrutiny might stoke a hornet’s nest that she would prefer to avoid, but it would be a meaningful assertion of political independence. And the attorney general is the position she occupies now.

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