ethics reform

The state capitol in Albany.
WAMC Photo by Dave Lucas

Hours before the close of the 2016 legislative session early Saturday morning, lawmakers and Governor Andrew Cuomo Friday reached an agreement on a 5-point ethics reform plan.

A new Siena College poll is out—and it has presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump trailing Hillary Clinton by more than 20 points in their home state of New York. Also, the poll shows a majority of New Yorkers are less likely to re-elect their state legislators if they don’t act on anti-corruption legislation. And Governor Andrew Cuomo’s fate grows less certain, with 49 percent of voters not wanting to re-elect him in two years. We’ve brought in Siena Research Institute Director Don Levy to discuss the results.

Good government groups gather in Albany
Karen DeWitt

  It’s just over three weeks until the legislative session is scheduled to end, and hopes for reform are fading, during an unprecedented level of corruption in state government.

Andrew Cuomo
Matt Ryan

  With his former top aide facing a federal probe for potential conflicts of interest for consulting work, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said twice now that he did not know what the former close associate of the Cuomo family was up to. Percoco left state service earlier this year for a job at Madison Square Garden.

When New York lawmakers announced the state budget agreement last week, ethics reform was not part of the package. That’s likely to come up at tonight’s Albany Museum of Political Corruption roundtable discussion at the College of Saint Rose.

 

  Governor Cuomo concedes that ethics reform is unlikely to be a part of the New York State budget, despite the conviction of the two legislative leaders on major corruption charges. Cuomo blames the legislature for lack of will to enact changes.

The Assembly and Senate have released budget positions that focus on taxes and spending policies, but very little on ethics reform, even though both former leaders of the legislature face prison sentences over corruption convictions.     

Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo

  In less than a month, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers will get the chance to make major ethics fixes as part of the state budget. So far there’s been little focus on responding to corruption scandals that led to the two legislative leaders facing long prison terms.

Blair Horner: Pushback Against Ethics Reform

Feb 29, 2016

A consistent theme in Albany’s unceasing parade of ethics scandals has been the abuse of power: Lawmakers using their public position to enrich themselves personally.  As U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara put it while commenting on his successful prosecutions of the former Assembly Speaker and former Senate Majority Leader, “Both of those cases, by the way, were awful and sad stories. No one says that those two men never did anything good for their state, but they threw it all away by forgetting that their jobs we’re not meant to be vehicles for massive personal profit.”

HV Assemblywoman Unveils Ethics Reform Package

Feb 26, 2016
Courtesy of the Office of Assemblywoman Sandy Galef

With one good-government leader calling this session Albany’s “Watergate moment,” a lawmaker from the Hudson Valley has introduced an ethics reform package trying to create distance between those who seek to influence the law and those who make the laws. Her effort comes a few months after the former Senate and Assembly leaders were convicted of corruption.

Blair Horner: The Governor Unveils His Reform Agenda

Jan 18, 2016

The staggering scandals and collapsing public confidence in state government created an opening for Governor Cuomo’s State of the State address.  Could he advance a comprehensive reform package that was commensurate with the unprecedented ethics, campaign finance and elections failings of the state?  His address was comprehensive:  The governor’s proposals – if enacted – offer significant remedies to those failings as well as to help restore the battered public confidence in Albany.

Allison Dunne

An assemblyman from the Hudson Valley supports New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposals for ethics reforms, but would like to see at least one go even further, especially following corruption convictions of various lawmakers.

Governor Cuomo in his January 13 state-of-the-state address called for limiting outside income as one portion of ethics reform. Democratic Assemblyman James Skoufis would like to see even stronger wording.

The 2016 legislative session kicked off quietly last week.  Typically, the governor unveils his legislative program on the first day.  His State of the State address serves as the legislative curtain raiser for the session.  This year, the governor has chosen to postpone his address for one week and has used that time to make daily announcements highlighting his upcoming initiatives. 

Office of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo

Now that the two leaders of the legislature have been convicted on multiple counts of corruption, government reform groups are looking to the remaining politicians at the Capitol for reform. And polls show that the public is with them.

  Two more lawmakers, a former Senate Leader and the Deputy Majority Leader of the Senate were convicted of corruption in the past week. But Governor Cuomo continues to say it would not be a good idea to call state lawmakers back to the Capitol to enact more ethics reform measures.


Last week, a Siena Research Institute poll reported that 90 percent of New Yorkers thought that government corruption is a serious problem.  When 90 percent of New Yorkers agree on anything, it’s amazing.  So you’d expect that elected officials would get the message and respond.

alh1/flickr

 A legislative session that featured the arrest of both of the top leaders of the legislature on corruption charges, saw no new ethics improvements included in the end of session agreements on a host of measures. One reform group is calling on the Governor and legislature to meet in a special session to address the state’s on going scandals.


While New York’s political class has been focused on Albany as it heads down the homestretch for the 2015 legislative session, the US Supreme Court could have a huge impact on both the state’s policies and politics.

Just Two Weeks Left In Albany

Jun 5, 2015
Blair Horner
Blair Horner

It’s the second to the last week of the legislative session in Albany, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers still have a long way to go before they can agree on key issues, including renewing New York City’s rent laws and related property tax cap. But, as Capitol Correspondent Karen DeWitt reports, some items are off the table.

Democrats in the State Senate are attempting to close a loophole in the state’s campaign finance laws, while a new poll finds New Yorkers want lawmakers to take more steps to quell corruption.

Blair Horner: Flawed Budget And Ethics Deals

Apr 6, 2015


The big news last week was the passage of the new state budget.  As has happened all-too-often, the budget was the product of horse trading and negotiations conducted in secret.  That’s right, despite the fact that it’s your money, Governor Cuomo and state lawmakers agreed to a $142 billion state budget and approved it in a way that meant that New Yorkers only found out the details after the fact.

Times Union Website Crime Confidential Blog

  The New York legislature completed an almost on-time budget, around 3 a.m. on the first day of the state’s fiscal year. One of the final pieces to come together was an ethics reform package, which will provide greater disclosure of lawmaker’s outside income. But critics say it does not go far enough.


In January of this year, then-Speaker of the Assembly Silver was arrested for his alleged abuse of power – using his official position to illegally obtain millions of dollars in outside income.  With that arrest as a backdrop, in February Governor Cuomo organized a speech at New York University’s Law School to announce his ethics reform plan.  The governor had a number of options for addressing the central problems that contribute to New York’s ethical scandals, including:

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the legislature are considering a  commission to design a new teacher evaluation plan, in order to break an impasse over the state budget. But even some lawmakers admit that the compromise is just kicking the can down the road.

Cuomo has demanded that education policy changes be passed along with the state budget, or he’ll hold up school aid increases.

Office of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo

Governor Andrew Cuomo and the legislature are making progress on the budget. Cuomo, after a private meeting with Senate Republicans, says he’s closer to an agreement on ethics reform, but the governor is getting some criticism for dropping some items out of the budget, including the Dream Act.


Last week, Governor Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Heastie announced an agreement to strengthen New York’s ethics laws.  At that time, the governor touted the agreement as extraordinary, the “most stringent ethical policy in the United States of America.”

legislativegazette.com

There’s still no final three way deal on an ethics reform proposal at the State Capitol.  And reform groups say a proposal offered by Governor Cuomo and the state Assembly does not go far enough.

The plan by Cuomo and Assembly Democrats requires that lawmakers disclose the source of all outside income they receive above $1000. Lawyers must reveal the names of their clients if they earn more than $5000. They would also have to prove they are actually in Albany, through an electronic monitoring system, before receiving their expense payments.

Office of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo

There’s just about a week and a half left before the budget deadline, and Governor Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers remain at odds over a number of issues, including whether ethics disclosure rules should apply to Governor Cuomo as well as the legislature.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.
Karen DeWitt

  Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Speaker of the Assembly say they hope the State Senate will sign on to their joint proposal for ethics reform, as a new poll finds the governor with dropping job approval numbers.

Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie took the unusual step of calling their ethics measure a “deal,” even though they need the State Senate to agree to the plan in order for it to become law.

“This is a day of progress and good news,” Cuomo said.

Gov. Cuomo
WAMC Photo by Dave Lucas

    Governor Andrew Cuomo has repeatedly threatened to hold up the state budget over ethics reform and other issues, like education policy. Now, a poll finds that voters would rather that the budget be on time. The spending plan is due March 31st and lawmakers return to Albany Wednesday to begin several weeks of negotiations.

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