Karl Sleight, Esq. November 6, 2013
authority; it is a simply a grant of authority to the Co-Chairpersons. In any event, an executive order could not limit the authority of the Commission acting as a designee of the Attorney General under
Executive Law § 63(8).
See Matter of De Brkzi,
303 N.Y. 206, 213 (1951) (executive order requesting
that the Attorney General appoint members of the New York State Crime Commission under §
63(8) did not deprive Attorney General of discretion required by that section).
Although the Commission is not obliged to adopt procedures to govern the exercise of its
powers, certain statutory provisions govern the conduct of the Commission. For example, Executive
63(8) provides that it shall be a misdemeanor to disclose to any person other than the
governor or the attorney-general the name of any witness examined or any information obtained
upon such inquiry. In addition, the Commission's inquiry is governed by
73 of the Civil Rights
Law, which creates a Code of fair procedure for investigating agencies. These rules are sufficient
to protect the interests of any witness required to provide testimony or information to the
Commission. In addition to the overriding principles of Executive Law 63(8) and the Civil Rights
Law, the Executive Order requires that each subpoena have the unanimous support of the three Co-
Chairpersons. The subpoena to Harris Beach was issued consistent with all applicable requirements.
he Subpoena Seeks Materials Squarely Relevant to the Commission's Lawful Inquiry
Again without any support, Harris Beach asserts simply that the subpoena fails to provide a legal, legitimate basis. Yet, the subpoena was issued under the Commission's lawful authority and
falls neatly within its mandate.
The Commission is tasked with examining compliance by organizations and other persons
engaged in lobbying and other attempts to influence public policies or elections and is further
directed to investigate weaknesses in existing laws, regulations and procedures relating to
addressing public corruption, conflicts of interest, and ethics in State Government. Executive Order No. 106,
II(b) and (c);
Executive Law § 6 (authority to examine and investigate the
management and affairs of any . . . board);
63(8) (authority to inquire into matters concerning .
. . public justice ). In furtherance of its mandate, the Commission may subpoena any documents
that bear a reasonable relation to the subject matter under investigation and to the public purpose
to be achieved. N.Y.
Republican State COMM. v. N.Y S. Conttn'n on Gov't Integrity,
138 Misc.2d 790, 796
(Sup. Ct., N.Y. County 1988),
140 A.D.2d 1014 (1st Dep't 1988) (upholding housekeeping
account subpoena issued by Feerick Commission exercising authority under Executive Law
The Commission's subpoena power is limited only by relevance and materiality.
Andrews Assoc., Inc. v. Office of the Inspector General,
85 A.D.3d 633 (1st Dep't 2011),
N.Y.3d 805. Thus, a motion to quash will be granted only 'where the futility of the process to uncover anything legitimate is inevitable or obvious' or where the information sought is 'utterly
irrelevant to any proper inquiry. '
71 N.Y.2d at 331-32 (quoting
Matter of Edge Ho
256 N.Y. 374, 382 (1931) and
Belle Creole Int'l,
10 N.Y.2d at 196);
This is the same broad subpoena authority generally possessed by the Attorney General.
E.g., La Belle Creole Inn v.
10 N.Y.2d 192, 196 (1961) (subpoena authority under section 63(12));
Anbexcer-Busch, Inc. v. Abrams,
N.Y.2d 327 (1988) (subpoena authority under the Martin Act).