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May 19, 2016

PRSA Update on JCOPE Opposition - May 19, 2016

New York’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) has officially filed a motion to dismiss the complaint and an opposition to the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction.  As expected, JCOPE’s position is that the plaintiffs have misinterpreted the Advisory Opinion and that the claims are not ripe for adjudication. Specifically, JCOPE claims that the plaintiffs’ interpretation and understanding of the Advisory Opinion are incorrect; that JCOPE has not enforced the Advisory Opinion or threatened enforcement consistent with the plaintiffs’ understanding.  Furthermore, JCOPE believes that New York State courts should have the first opportunity to address any deficiencies in the application of the Advisory Opinion.

More substantively, JCOPE has argued that the requirements of the Advisory Opinion, as interpreted by JCOPE, are legitimate and consistent with obligations that have previously been found to be constitutional. One key point of JCOPE’s arguments is that the disclosure requirements are exactly the same as those that are already imposed on “lobbyists.” Importantly, JCOPE has confirmed its position that the Advisory Opinion does not require disclosure of the identities of reporters or the substance of any communication with them.

Over the next few weeks the parties will be filing briefs in opposition to, or in support of, the various motions before the Court.  In the interim, the stay of enforcement as to the named plaintiffs remains in effect.  We will continue to update you as this situation evolves.

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