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Group wants transparency for domestic partners' of state officials

By Tom Precious

ALBANY -- A conservative religious group wants some clarity on state rules regarding domestic partners of state officials and whether they have to disclose financial statements with an ethics agency to guard against possible conflicts of interest.

The request to the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics by the New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms comes after the ethics agency recently said Sandra Lee, the girlfriend of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, is a domestic partner of the governor's and can ride on state aircraft and have state security services when she accompanies him on official government business.

Jason McGuire, the religious group's executive director, said it is "inconsistent'' that the state not require domestic partners to file financial disclosure forms when spouses of state officials must reveal details about employment and investments to the ethics agency.

"Gov. Cuomo and other elected officials who reside with unmarried partners should not be able to have their cake and eat it too. Basic notions of equity, accountability and transparency require that the state be placed on notice of potential conflicts of interest due to the business or other interests of an elected official's domestic partner. It is hope that JCOPE will recognize this and re-evaluate its disclosure requirements accordingly,'' McGuire said in a written statement today.

The Cuomo administration declined comment, but officials have noted that the administration never asked the state ethics agency to clarify the rules for Lee, and that she has never been a passenger on state aircraft.

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