Election Officials Vote to Rein in Independent Watchdog


New York state’s Board of Elections is moving to weaken the powers of an independent elections law watchdog.

The Board voted 3-1 Wednesday to require the state’s independent enforcement counsel to justify in writing each subpoena they want to issue when investigating alleged campaign finance and election law cases.

The board already had control over whether subpoenas could be issued in specific cases, but the new rule means the counsel must get approval on a subpoena-by-subpoena basis.

Members of the board, comprised of two Republicans and two Democrats, said the change gives them greater oversight over important investigations.

Good-government groups blasted the move, which state Attorney General Barbara Underwood said will “gut” the counsel’s independence and lead to more corruption. Current counsel Risa Sugarman had also warned against the change.

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