Press Release: Skoufis Committee Issues First Legislative Subpoenas in Decades

Senator James Skoufis (D-Hudson Valley) and the Senate Majority announced that the Investigations and Government Operations Committee that Skoufis chairs is taking the rare and extraordinary step of issuing subpoenas to compel testimony and documents from real estate agents and companies.

In December, in response to the Newsday investigation that revealed evidence of racial discrimination and unequal treatment by Long Island real estate agents, the New York State Senate held a joint public hearing, co-chaired by Skoufis, on the systematic housing discrimination that was uncovered. Every real estate agent and company that allegedly committed discriminatory practices were requested to attend. However, because most of these individuals chose to ignore the request to appear, Senator Skoufis’ committee decided to issue legislative subpoenas.

This is the first time in over a decade that the Investigations and Government Operations Committee has issued subpoenas. Although this Newsday investigation focused on discriminatory practices on Long Island, there is a high probability this type of housing discrimination is occurring throughout the state, including here in the Hudson Valley.

Senator James Skoufis said, “Newsday’s investigation revealed blatant discrimination, plain and simple. Due to the fact so many of the realtors and their firms refused to appear and answer for their actions at our December hearing, we are taking the extraordinary step of issuing legislative subpoenas. There was an easy way and a hard way for these witnesses to cooperate; it is unfortunate they chose the hard way. Subpoenaed individuals are obliged to attend our April hearing, provide testimony, and submit any information and documents that the Senate requests. Failure to do so will result in legal action.

Skoufis continued, “The Senate’s Investigations and Government Operations Committee, in partnership with Senators Kavanagh and Thomas, is working to get to the bottom of what happened, how it happened, and why it happened on Long Island. The Senate majority is determined to exercise our legislative prerogative on behalf of the people we serve, including employing tools that have been historically underutilized. These legislative subpoenas demonstrate that we will not tolerate individuals or their companies that attempt to thumb their nose at our efforts. I look forward to questioning our witnesses in April.”