With all the publicity surrounding the arrest and arraignment of Mount Vernon Mayor Richard W. Thomas, and New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman inviting those who suspect public corruption in their community to contact him, during his press conference, many have inquired how do I file a public integrity complaint.
The story of Mayor Thomas’ corruption charges led many to discussion about corruption in their communities on social media. So much so we decided to look up the information and post it here for anyone who suspects public corruption. It’s one thing to complain among family and friends but if you want to see something done about it, you the resident, the taxpayer have to be willing to report it. I understand just the idea of reporting it can be scary and a little intimidating, so we tried to complied all the information here to make it a little easier for you. Feel free to share this information with others you thing may be in need of it.
First things first, before you file a public integrity complaint, you must consider which one of the agencies (listed below) would be better suited to handle your matter. Matters dealing with the below issues should be referred to the following agencies:
- Local crime – New York State District Attorneys
- Complaints regarding Judges – Commission on Judicial Conduct
- Complaints regarding attorneys – Attorney Grievance Committees
- Statewide crime- New York State Division of State Police
- Matters regarding tax discrepancies – Department of Taxation and Finance
- Matters regarding Child Support payments – Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance – Division of Child Support Enforcement
- Matters regarding prison conditions – Department of Correctional Services Inspector General
- Matters regarding retirement benefits – Office of the New York State Comptroller
- Matters regarding election fraud- Board of Elections
- Matters regarding misconduct in executive branch agencies – New York State Office of the Inspector General
- Matters regarding state electric, gas, steam, telecommunications, and water utilities – New York State – Public Service Commission
- Advice and questions regarding state ethics and lobbying laws- New York State Commission on Public Integrity
After identifying the appropriate agency to file your complaint, the next thing you need to know is exactly how do you file a complaint.
- Complaints must be in writing and on their complaint form.
- Click here for Complaint form
- Please state your complaint clearly and concisely. You should enclose copies of all relevant documents.
- DO NOT send any original documents.
- Filing a false complaint is a Class A Misdemeanor.
Now the thing you must understand that in order to resolve your complaint they may send a copy of your letter to the individual, agency or municipality you are complaining about. If you have questions concerning your individual legal rights or responsibilities you should contact a private attorney.
If They Cannot Provide Any Immediate Assistance: If your concern is not one that they can assist you with, they may either refer you to another government agency which may be able to assist you or just note it in their records.
Please be advised that by filing a complaint with their Office, you have NOT initiated a lawsuit or a proceeding, nor has their Office initiated a lawsuit or a proceeding on your behalf. If you believe you have an individual claim, you may wish to consult with a private attorney.
Ok so now you have identified the problem agency and you have filed your complaint, what now?
After a complaint has been received by their office, you will receive an acknowledgement letter referencing a PIB complaint number. Any additional materials you wish to share with their office should reference the assigned PIB number. Your complaint will then undergo a careful review process in which attorneys will evaluate whether sufficient basis exists for action by the Attorney General. Should they find that the matter is better suited to another bureau or agency, they will forward it to the appropriate office. (Please see common referrals). As a matter of course, complainants are not notified of progress regarding their complaint or the status of the complaint, as it could interfere with the law enforcement process.
The Public Integrity Bureau does not provide legal opinions nor represent individuals. If you believe you have an individual claim, you may wish to consult a private attorney. Your local bar association provides attorney referrals.
If you are writing on behalf of a government entity, there are circumstances when the Appeals and Opinions bureau can render a legal opinion.
All this information is from the New York State Attorney General’s office website.