The New York City Conflicts of Interest Board ruled on Wednesday evening that members of the City Council may vote to modify, extend or abolish term limits even if they will directly benefit from such a change, dealing a blow to three officials who had argued that it would violate ethics laws for Council members to alter term limits without a public referendum.
In an 11-page ruling, the board rejected arguments made by Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum and two City Council members, Bill de Blasio and Letitia James. The three had argued that it would be unethical for the majority of City Council members, who would otherwise be barred from seeking re-election next year, to vote to extend the number of maximum terms to three, from two, because they would themselves benefit from such a change.
The Conflicts of Interest Board disagreed. It ruled that “a legislator’s act of voting for, or against, extending his or her own ability to seek another term” does not violate laws that prohibit lawmakers from using their office for “personal or private advantage.”
Ethics Panel Clears Way for Term Limits Vote