Niagara Gazette

Local News

April 9, 2013

Pitching 'Public Trust'|Cuomo, DAs announce NY anti-corruption measures

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — "Ethics has always been a hard lift in the Legislature," said Barbara Bartoletti of the League of Women Voters. "But maybe there is now a tipping point, and perhaps we have not come to the point that legislators would rather turn on their own than be tainted themselves by the whole institution being corrupt." Cuomo said the proposal would focus far more attention on ethical behavior.

"When it comes to public integrity, you can't have enough cops on the beat," Cuomo said. "If you are a public official and you break the law, you will be caught, you will be prosecuted, and you will go to jail."

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said last week that government corruption is rampant in Albany. State politicians were arrested last week in two bribery cases brought by Bharara.

Cuomo also raised the possibility of making the Legislature full-time. Currently lawmakers who are paid a base of $79,500 a year are considered part-time, although most make over $100,000 through leadership stipends and per-diem payments for being Albany.

Cuomo said that with a part-time Legislature including many lawyers and business operators, "the number of potential conflicts goes way up." But he said the drawbacks include higher pay and he half joked that a Legislature in session more may be seen as doing "more harm."

Cuomo wants the Legislature to approve the measures this session, which ends June 20.

Spokesman for the Assembly's Democratic majority and the traditional Democratic conference in the Senate said they are reviewing the proposal and declined extensive comment.

"In light of the charges brought last week by the U.S. attorney against members of the Legislature, we must redouble our efforts to create a government New Yorkers can be proud of," said Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos.

Sen. Jeff Klein of the Independent Democratic Conference which runs the Senate with the Republican conference called Cuomo's proposal a good first step.

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