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FOIC Lawyer Gains National Prominence

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February 13, 2006


People, Firms and Issues
Turner's 'day job' responsibilities expanding too
Attorney Eric V. Turner's election as president of the Council on Governmental Ethics Laws (COGEL) is notable for two reasons: Not only is he just the second person from Connecticut to hold the post, but he is the first African-American president in the organization's 27-year history.

And as if that weren't enough, Turner has taken on new responsibilites at his "day job" at the state Freedom of Information Commission, where he was recently promoted from director of public information and education to the managing director position. He also continues to serve as associate general council to the FOIC.

"[T]o attain the stature and respect of your colleagues is an organization that is in itself," said Mitchell Pearlman, the Connecticut agency's former executive director."...It is a real feather in the cap of the FOI commission to have one of its own elected as president of the preeminent ethics organization in North America.

Formed in 1978, primarily in response to the Watergate scandal, COGEL is the oldest and most respected organization of government ethics administrators in the nation, if not the world. Over 200 members belong to COGEL, including ethics administrators in the fields of elections, compaign financing, lobbying and freedom of information from the United States, Canada and Mexico. It is a network of professional who better one another through the sharing of their expertise. "This is a real organization of excellence," Pearlman noted.

In a press release, state Elections Enforcement Commission Executive Director Jeffrey Garfield, a former COGEL president, said Turner earned the post through old-fashioned hard work. "I'm certain that Eric will bring his many skills and talents to making his presidency one of the most successful in the organizations hisory," Garfield said.

After receiving his law degree from New York State University at Buffalo, Turner toiled as an in-house pension lawyer at Aetna Inc. before joining the FOIC in 1996. Turner said it is the FOIC's overall mission that inspires him. "The general concept of the public's right to know, and government transparency that is the major thrust of what I have been interested in," he said. Turner said he feels strongly in the importance of "getting the word out to the public servants [on] what their obligations are under the law, and to the public [on] what their rights are.

Before being named president, Turner served COGEL's steering committee and chaired the panel responsible for the group's intra-organization newsletter. He also served this past year as chair of its Global Affairs Committee. "It has really been interesting dealing with [global] issues, and just trying to expand our horizons," he said.

Scheduling international speakers for the annual conference in December is one of Turner's goals for this year, as well as increasing membership, and facilitating networking within the organization.

By KORY LOUCKS, Special To The Law Tribune

Jet Magazine Article, Dated February 27, 2006*