Guarantee No One is Uncounted in the 2020 Census

End Corruption with Clean Contracting


Guilty verdict of Kaloyeros is a wake-up call. Groups once again urge Governor Cuomo to stop using state-controlled nonprofits to award state contracts and to adopt basic Clean Contracting reforms.

According to fiscal and government watchdog groups, evidence introduced at the federal trial of Alain Kaloyeros, the governor's former nano-czar, and executives from LP Ciminelli and COR Development highlight the vulnerability of the state’s economic development programs to corruption and abuse. Read More.

Attacking Immigrant Communities Must End

Citizens Union Foundation's watchdog publication Gotham Gazette provides New Yorkers with illuminating analyses on policy, long-form interviews with thought leaders, and under-reported stories about the actions of government and government officials. Read Gotham Gazette's latest stories.

Citizens Union has examined New York’s FY 2018 Enacted Budget and found that $1 billion in nonspecific lump sum funding “pots” were added to the FY 2018 Executive Budget proposed by the Governor, bringing the total amount of such funding that Citizens Union has identified to nearly $13 billion. Read the report .

Transparency Cannot Wait

As Massive Bid Rigging Trial Gets Underway Watchdogs Call On Assembly Speaker Heastie to Stop Stalling and Allow Vote on Database of Deals and Comptroller’s Procurement Integrity Act

Outside the Manhattan Courthouse where top aides and campaign contributors to Governor Cuomo are on trial for allegedly rigging over $1B in state economic development contracts, watchdog groups once again called on State Assembly Speaker to stop stalling and to allow a vote on key transparency and oversight legislation that has already passed the state senate 62-0 and 60-2. The legislation is co-sponsored by dozens of assembly democrats and is supported by twenty watchdog and civic groups. Read More.

Watchdog Groups Applaud NY State Senate

For Passing Bills to Increase the Transparency and Accountability of State Economic Development Programs: Assembly Must Now Act on Bipartisan Legislation to Restore the Public Trust

Good government and fiscal watchdog groups commend the Senate for passing a package of bills intended to improve the transparency and accountability of the state’s multitude of economic development programs. The groups call on the Assembly to join the Senate in passing the Database of Deals A.8175-A(Schimminger) & S.6613-B(Croci) and Comptroller DiNapoli’s Procurement Integrity Act S.3984-A (DeFrancisco) & A.6355-A (Peoples-Stokes). Read More.

The People's Right to Oversight is Critical

"For democracy to succeed, people must be able to see, in as close to real time as possible, how public resources are being distributed. There needs to be more specific reporting on a project-by-project basis. Obscure government spending is an especially serious problem in a state characterized by entrenched political machinery and habitual complacency at the polls. When officials are not accountable to their constituents, and are instead operators, beneficiaries, and subordinates of insular political structures, the people's right to oversight is critical." Read the full OpEd by Executive Director, Betsy Gotbaum and Public Policy and Program Manager, Ethan Geringer-Sameth in The  New York Daily News.

2018 Charter Revision Commission

Throughout its history, Citizens Union has supported the periodic comprehensive review of the New York City Charter absent a political agenda via the appointment of an independent Charter Revision Commission to ensure that city government is operating effectively, efficiently and in the public’s best interest. We have recommendations in a range of other areas and welcome the opportunity to discuss them with the Commission. Read our testimony.


Repeal Civil Rights Law 50-a

Allow Public Disclosure of Police Records Relating to Police Misconduct

“No other public officer in the state enjoys the level of protection from public scrutiny as do the police,” said Betsy Gotbaum, Executive Director of Citizens Union. “Not only are they charged with maintaining public safety, but also the police are often a source of influential testimony, which can have mortal implications for people’s lives. They also carry lethal force. In the face of such grave responsibility, why are police officers shielded from public oversight?” Read More


On March 27th, the board of Citizens Union elected two new board members, Christopher Giglio and Cliff Chenfeld.

“We welcome our new board members, both of whom are accomplished and collaborative leaders in the industries of music and public relations. Their vast knowledge, philanthropic commitment, and dedication to the work of good government, are essential to both the mission of Citizens Union and the civic lives of New Yorkers.” said the Citizens Union Chairman of the Board.  

Executive Director, Betsy Gotbaum, said of the new members, “Citizens Union is tightening its focus this year to better serve New York and all who live here. Both Christopher and Cliff bring a wealth of possibility and promise to the work of accountable government and civic education. I am honored to work with them, and the full board of Citizens Union.” Read about our new board members. 

Ethan Geringer-Sameth, the Public Policy & Program Manager at Citizens Union, testified to New York City Council on February 28th on the important matter of sexual harassment best practices and policies in New York City. Read the testimony.



Assure an Independent Commission

Citizens Union delivered a letter on Friday, February 16th, to Mayor de Blasio’s office in City Hall, critical of the manner in which the Mayor is approaching the creation of a Charter Revision Commission. The Commission will review the Charter of the City of New York, inviting input from New Yorkers and then issue a report with recommendations for changes, to be ratified or rejected by the public, in an election. Read More.

Errol Louis spoke with newly appointed executive director Betsy Gotbaum on Road to City HallWatch here.


Citizens Union Announces Endorsements for 2017 NYC General Election Contests

Makes No Endorsement in Mayoral Race

Citizens Union today announced its endorsements for citywide and City Council contests for the 2017 New York City general election. The full directory is available now by downloadable PDF, with an interactive version to follow shortly.

For the first time in more than 50 years, Citizens Union, by a unanimous vote of its governing board, declined to support any of the candidates running for Mayor. Citizens Union noted a number of Mayor Bill de Blasio's accomplishments during his term but expressed a particular concern that the Mayor's conduct has raised many troubling ethical issues. CU expressed the hope that in the future whoever is elected mayor will address the perception of a "pay-to-play" culture at City Hall and support ethics reform legislation for the benefit of all New Yorkers.   

The Citizens Union Board of Directors stated: "This is a sad day for Citizens Union that it cannot, in good conscience, support any of the candidates for Mayor, including the incumbent, who has spent most of his tenure engulfed in troubling ethical issues that continue to swirl around him. New Yorkers deserve better than this. And we call upon whoever is elected to commit themselves to ethics reforms that clean up City Hall." Read the full release now.

 "We are pleased to announce that Betsy Gotbaum will become the new Executive Director of Citizens Union. As a champion of good government and long-time distinguished public servant, Betsy exemplifies all of the qualities and principles that Citizens Union stands for. Indeed, for more than 120 years, we have championed honesty, integrity, transparency, and accountability in government. And we cannot imagine a better leader than Betsy Gotbaum to help us achieve our ambitious agenda to deliver for all New Yorkers the good government they deserve."


Citizens Union first began reporting on special elections and vacancies in the New York State Legislature in 2007 and has issued periodic updates to the original briefing paper over the last ten years (2011, 2015, 2017 – prospective). The accompanying data serves as interim reporting on legislative offices that were first filled or will be filled imminently, by special election. A full report on special elections and vacancies in the state legislature is currently being planned for release later this year. Read the report now. 

Listen to "What's the Data Point" a weekly podcast hosted by Ben Max of Gotham Gazette and Maria Doulis of the Citizens Budget Commission connecting data points to the lives of New Yorkers.