Saturday, May 4, 2013

Ellen Biben Resigns As Executive Director of the Joint Commission on Public Ethics

JCOPE director Biben is resigning

State ethics panel leader will pursue private sector job
Published 10:27 pm, Thursday, May 2, 2013


Ellen Biben, executive director of the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, is stepping down, the second major departure from the ethics watchdog in as many weeks.
Biben is pursuing an opportunity in the private sector, according to a statement from JCOPE Chairman Daniel Horwitz. Her resignation will take effect at the end of this month.
"We are grateful to Ellen for the excellent work she has done helping to build this agency and for leading it to great accomplishments in its first year, including historic disclosure requirements for lobbyists and their clients and the first independent ethics investigation involving the legislative branch resulting in the report that was issued to the Legislative Ethics Commission in February," Horwitz said. He referred to JCOPE's examination of how the Assembly handled allegations of sexual harassment against Assemblyman Vito Lopez.
"We also recognize and appreciate her extraordinary commitment to integrity through her career in public service," Horwitz said.
Biben arrived at JCOPE after a brief stint as the state inspector general. Filling a 14-month vacancy, Cuomo said Thursday that Catherine Leahy Scott would be promoted from acting inspector general. Biben previously worked as an aide to Cuomo when he was attorney general, spearheading public corruption cases stemming from abuse of the state pension fund. She cut her teeth as a prosecutor in the Manhattan District Attorney's office.
Running the commission has proven to be somewhat thankless, though, and Biben was criticized for her ties to Cuomo. She told The Wall Street Journal that she had always intended to stay at JCOPE for a year, and was proud of what she accomplished.
"I feel really good and proud of what we've achieved so far," Biben said. "We've done a terrific body of investigative work. A lot of it is not open to the public, or the public may not know about it, but we've reviewed and disposed of hundreds of investigative matters."
Biben's exit follows that of Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore, who said on April 22 that she would step down as JCOPE's chair to focus on her re-election.
John Milgrim, a JCOPE spokesman, said recruiting and selecting an executive director is a matter for the commission to decide. The next meeting is expected in the last week of May.

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