The Push And Pull For Disclosure In The Post-Silver Era
From the Morning Memo:
State lawmakers are under pressure from Gov. Andrew Cuomo to disclose more information on their outside business interests, including their privately held clients.
“People have to know. That’s where we keep getting into trouble as a government,” Cuomo told reporters last month in Utica.
But lawmakers in recent days have started to push back.
Senate Republicans introduced a bill last week requiring non-family members living with state officials to disclose their income as well. The bill appears to be targeting Cuomo’s live-in girlfriend, Food Network star Sandra Lee.
“We believe the governor’s office should be participating in these disclosures and participating in the ethics reforms,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman John DeFrancisco said in an interview.
Cuomo is linking new disclosure requirements to the approval of spending in the $142 billion budget proposal. This has upset some lawmakers, who say it makes it more difficult for them to negotiate a compromise.
“The more that appropriations are tied up in language, it ties the Legislature’s hands to act,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said at a news conference last week.
And then there’s Cuomo’s own record on disclosure and his administration’s new policy of deleting emails after 90 days. Democratic Sen. Liz Krueger is introducing a bill that would halt that deletion policy.
“I think the governor’s office really missed the boat on this one. We’re living in the 21st century. Email is a standard form of communication between the public and the government,” the Manhattan Democrat said in an interview.
For some lawmakers, the deletion policy being pursued by the governor’s office is in contradiction to the efforts to shine more sunlight on the Capitol.
“I think that the governor believes we should have more transparency, more information flow between legislators and the public. I think the governor just needs to think through is the right hand doing what the left hand is saying,” Krueger said.
The ethics push at the Capitol comes after the arrest of now-former Speaker Sheldon Silver on corruption charges. Silver was one of the longest serving speakers in the state’s history. And on Monday, Senate lawmakers moved to limit how many years legislative leaders and committee chairs can serve.
“I do believe that when you’re in power for too long, you begin to somewhat removed and insular from people and there’s potential for more problems,” said Sen. Joe Griffo, a Rome Republican who is the measure’s main sponsor. “I believe this is a better way to empower more members, allow more members opportunities to serve in leadership.”
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