A state lawmaker from the lower Hudson Valley is raising concerns about a newly expanded set of financial disclosure forms, saying their easy accessibility makes it easier for vandals to rip off lawmakers’ identities.
In a phone interview last week, Assemblyman Thomas Abinanti, D-Greenburgh, Westchester County, said he believes the new forms—which for the first time require lawmakers to publicly disclose their outside income and worth of their assets—are too intrusive. The latest documents were unveiled last week.
“If you’re looking for people to list who their clients are who do business with the state, I think that’s an appropriate question,” Abinanti said. “But to, say, list every stock certificate you have or every account that you have, et cetera, I think that’s an open invitation for identity theft.”
He continued: “Right now, there are people out there who are experts at this stuff. I don’t need someone trying to figure out where my bank accounts are and the little bit of whatever I own.”
Abinanti said he is particularly concerned about making the forms so easily available online. All 213 lawmakers and four statewide elected officials have their forms posted on the Joint Commission on Public Ethics’ website in PDF form. In previous years, the forms—which had the value of the legislators’ outside income redacted—had been available by request from the Legislative Ethics Commission.
The forms were expanded for the 2012 reporting period under a revamping of the state ethics law in 2011, which included the creation of JCOPE.
“I believe that this form is far too intrusive,” Abinanti said. “I think we’re setting ourselves up. It’s an open invitation for identity theft.”