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Cy Vance: Independent review will help reduce the appearance that donations influence my work

New York Daily News

In my seven years as district attorney, I’ve never allowed someone’s wealth, power, race, or campaign contributions to influence my decisions. Over the past few days, I’ve learned that it's not enough for me to have confidence in my independence from donors. The people of New York deserve to be confident about it as well.

That’s why today, the Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity (CAPI) will begin an independent review of how we handle campaign contributions. In 90 days, they will report back with recommendations on how to handle them moving forward. In the interim, I have directed my campaign not to accept a single dollar more.

I expect that CAPI — a nonpartisan center at Columbia Law School that works to bolster municipal integrity across the globe — will recommend that we go well beyond what is currently required by laws that govern contributions to district attorneys in our state. I genuinely hope that they do. This is one of the first reviews of its kind ever undertaken in the realm of prosecutors’ offices, and the firestorm we have experienced over the past week presents an opportunity for real reform.

A well-functioning justice system depends on two things. It depends on actors within it faithfully executing their duties. And it depends on public confidence — shared by people of all races and socioeconomic classes — that those actors are making judgments based on the merits alone. Our system fails when those who lack power believe that the system favors those who do.

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