Seth H. Agata is Executive Director and General Counsel to the Police Benevolent Association of New York State, a public sector labor union that represents police officers employed by the State University of New York, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Prior to that, he served as special counsel and founding co-chair of the Lobbying Law and Public Ethics Practice in the law firm of Jenner & Block.
Before returning to the private sector, he was the third and longest serving Executive Director of the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) where he was responsible for administering lobbying and public ethics laws in New York State. Under his direction, JCOPE launched the first comprehensive lobbying regulations in New York State history and revamped post-employment “revolving door” restrictions. He has lectured extensively on government ethics.
Prior to being named Executive Director of JCOPE, Mr. Agata served as Chair of the New York State Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) from 2015 to 2016. PERB is a neutral regulatory and quasi-judicial body charged with resolving disputes between government employers and public employees. Mr. Agata authored decisions, oversaw litigation, supervised staff and managed the administrative and policy-making aspects of the agency.
In the Executive Chamber of the Governor of New York, Mr. Agata held a variety of roles including Assistant Counsel and First Assistant Counsel to the Governor before being appointed as Acting Counsel to the Governor. In that position, he was the Executive Chamber’s chief ethics officer, and supervised legal staff, oversaw legal policy in dozens of state agencies, drafted and negotiated legislation and advised the Governor on selecting judges to the New York Court of Appeals and to other courts and on clemencies and pardons.
Before joining the Governor’s staff, Mr. Agata held junior and senior legal and policy positions for the New York State Assembly. He also served as Counsel for Investigations in the Office of State Comptroller, an assistant district attorney for Columbia County, New York and as a trial examiner in the New York City Office of Collective Bargaining. He began his career in private law practice in New York City and in Columbia County, New York where he resides.
He co-authored The History of the New York Court of Appeals, 1932-2003 (Columbia U. Press, 2006) and is a frequent speaker on topics related to public policy and ethics. He is also a contributing author to Lefkowitz on Public Sector Labor and Employment Law (4th Edition, New York State Bar Association). He is a 1979 graduate of Cornell University (School of Industrial and Labor Relations) and a 1982 graduate of the Cornell Law School.