June 20, 2012

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Court tosses judgment against UUP


A state Supreme Court judge has issued a decision in favor of UUP, overturning a ruling that the union had violated the state’s Lobbying Act.

The June 14 ruling by acting justice Kimberly O’Connor vacates the decision by the New York State Commission on Public Integrity that UUP violated the law during its 2008 Legislative Luncheon in Albany. The commission declared that UUP “willfully and knowingly” violated the terms of a more stringent ethics reform law passed in 2007, which vaguely limited organizations to providing public officials with nothing worth more than a “nominal value.” UUP successfully argued that the standards for what food and beverages could be served in the presence of state lawmakers had not been established at the time of the event. The judge also found that the Commission's decision should be vacated because UUP's offer of complimentary attendance, food, and beverages at the 2008 Legislative Luncheon did not influence the official conduct of those public officials in attendance. .

“We are pleased that the court agreed that UUP could not be penalized for not following rules that did not yet exist,” UUP President Phil Smith said in response to the decision. “We conducted this event for 17 years without any violations of the law, and the judge affirmed that UUP did nothing wrong in holding it in 2008.” Smith added that UUP has strictly followed the new regulations and has instructed its chapters to do the same. Chapters seeking clarification about any legislative events they’re planning are encouraged to call the office of UUP’s secretary in Albany.

The legislative event brought UUP members together with state lawmakers from noon to 1:30 giving members the opportunity to meet face-to-face with legislators from their districts to press the union’s annual Legislative Agenda.

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