back                   Distinguished Cornell '79 Classmates Honored at the 40th Reunion                    next
Seth H. Agata

Seth is Executive Director of the NY State Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE). It is the first body in New York history to oversee not only the ethics of Executive Branch employees (including Governor, Comptroller and Attorney General) and lobbyists but also members and employees of the State Legislature. His job is especially rewarding, as while serving in the Office of Counsel to Governor Andrew Cuomo, he was one of the drafters of the Public Integrity Reform Act of 2011 that created the Commission.

As First Assistant Counsel and later, Acting Counsel to the Governor, Seth helped negotiate and draft numerous pieces of legislation including New York’s Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013 (SAFE Act). He also oversaw state budget negotiations, pardons, clemencies and the appointment of judges to the NY Court of Appeals. Following his service as Acting Counsel, Governor Cuomo appointed him Chair of the NY Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) where he served until JCOPE named him Executive Director. 

Before working for Governor Cuomo, in addition to many years in private practice and as an assistant district attorney in upstate Columbia County, he served as a chief counsel to the Assembly Committee on Codes, where he helped negotiate and draft the repeal of New York’s draconian “Rockefeller Drug Laws” as well as the creation of New York’s Office of Indigent Legal Services. He has written and lectured on public ethics and public employment law.  He is particularly proud of co-authoring with his late father, and the late Judge Bernard Meyer of the NY Court of Appeals, a one-volume treatise, The History of the New York Court of Appeals, 1932-2003.

Seth is a graduate of both Cornell’s School of Industrial & Labor Relations and Law School. He lives with his wife, Gail, in historic Kinderhook, NY. Making his chest swell with further “Big Red” pride, is their son Adam (Cornell ’10), who lives in Brooklyn.