With The Latest Whiff Of Corruption, Ethics Eyed In Budget
A day of marathon meetings between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state legislative leaders yielded no white smoke on the state budget.
“They are all being negotiated. A lot of issues have been resolved and we’ll see how it goes,” Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos told reporters.
As lawmakers head into the home stretch, good-government advocates hope a package of ethics overhaul legislation is approved.
However, it’s unclear if the latest corruption news — including the FBI raid of Queens Assemblyman Bill Scarborough and the reported investigation into a land purchase by Senator Kathy Marchione — will spur officials to include ethics in the budget.
“How many problems does it take before they start take this seriously? We heard from the leaders they’re discussing ethics reforms. We hope it’s meaningful,” said NYPIRG legislative director Blair Horner.
Cuomo introduced an ethics package in his $142 billion budget that calls for stricter anti-bribery and corruption penalties as well as increased oversight at the state Board of Elections.
Advocates are also closely to watching to make sure the public financing of political campaigns is included. Doing so could repair the frayed relationship between Cuomo and the well-funded organizations that have pushed for public financing.
“We definitely think this is Governor Cuomo’s opportunity to make good on his representations that public financing is a part of his agenda,” Common Cause’s Susan Lerner said.
Some sources over the last several hours said proposals have included public financing options for both the state comptroller and attorney general’s race, though publicly Senate Republicans have not softened their opposition on the issue.
At the same time, the fate of Cuomo’s panel to investigate corruption is up in the air. The governor’s Moreland Commission was defunded by both the Senate and Assembly’s one-house budgets, denying $270,000 in spending for contracts with Moreland.
Underlying any ethics negotiations, though, is the ongoing court challenges to the commission’s authority to subpoena lawmakers to gain more access to their outside income.
The state attorney general’s office and lawyers for the Assembly and Senate agreed to adjourn the legal challenge to April, or until after the budget process is presumably finalized.
“I never thought they were legally empowered anyway,” Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said.
Senate IDC Leader Jeff Klein said ethics reform remains on the budget negotiating table.
“The Public Trust Act is being discussed,” Klein said. “Very close to an agreement on that.”
|Print article||This entry was posted by Nick Reisman on March 27, 2014 at 7:01 pm, and is filed under Campaign Finance Reform. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|