New York City Council Confirms Columbia Law School Professor Richard Briffault to Head Ethics Board

Briffault Will Chair the Conflicts of Interest Board That Governs the Ethical Conduct of Public Employees.

New York, March 14, 2014—The New York City Council has confirmed Columbia Law School Professor Richard Briffault as chair of the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board, an enforcement agency that governs the ethical conduct of public employees. The council voted on March 12.

Mayor Bill de Blasio nominated Briffault, the Joseph P. Chamberlain Professor of Legislation, for the post on Feb. 6.
“I have spent my entire career working for a more ethical and honest government,” Briffault said. “Those standards are critical not only to preserving the people’s trust, but also to effectively carrying out the work people expect of their city. The board will work hard every day to make sure we set the highest bar for this city’s public servants.”
Briffault has done a substantial amount of work on issues of public integrity and government ethics. He is the reporter for the American Law Institute's Principles of Government Ethics project, and, this past summer, he was named to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Commission to Investigate Public Corruption. The Moreland Commission probes systemic public corruption and the appearance of such corruption in state government, political campaigns, and elections. Unlike the Conflicts of Interest Board, the commission is a temporary body and its primary work is investigative. Briffault is also a member of the board of advisers for the Law School’s Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity, which was launched in August to study corruption at the municipal level in jurisdictions around the world.
Conflicts of Interest Board members—who serve staggered, six-year terms— meet once a month to consider cases, issue opinions and orders, and, if necessary, impose penalties and fines for violations of standards governing gifts, part-time jobs, volunteer activities, confidential information, and political activities, among other areas.
Briffault specializes in state and local government law, legislation, the law of the political process, and property. He is the author of several dozen law review articles on campaign finance law, local government law, and state-local relations, and has served as a member of or consultant to several New York City and New York State commissions dealing with state and local governance.
Briffault said his work in the classroom and his role as a civil servant inform each other.
“This gives me the opportunity to get engaged with the nitty-gritty of real problems and real cases,” he said. “And my scholarship and teaching give me a framework to approach those problems.”