WATCHDOG GROUPS UNVEIL “ROADMAP” TO CURBING CORRUPTION IN NEW YORK BY KICKING OFF RESTORE PUBLIC TRUST CAMPAIGN
URGE GOVERNOR AND LEGISLATURE TO TAKE SPECIFIC, CONCRETE STEPS TO RESPOND TO TIDAL WAVE OF SCANDALS
2018 LEGISLATIVE SESSION WILL TAKE PLACE AGAINST BACKDROP OF RAFT OF CORRUPTION TRIALS
Reacting to the State of the State Address, New York’s leading civic organizations today kicked off a Restore Public Trust campaign that called on Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders to adopt a package of reforms to help restore public confidence in state government.
The groups say the six upcoming corruption trials of high ranking former public officials that begin this month are unprecedented and alarming, and actions must be taken:
- On January 22nd , the scheduled trialof Joseph Percoco, former executive deputy secretary to the Governor;
- February 5th, the scheduled trial of former New York State Senator George Maziarz;
- March 12th, the scheduled trial of Edward Mangano, former Nassau County executive;
- April 16th, the scheduled retrial of former state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver;
- On May 15, the scheduled trial of former SUNY Polytechnic Institute President and CEO Alain Kaloyeros; and
- On June 18th, the scheduled retrial of former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.
The defendants in these cases are entitled to the presumption of innocence; however, these trials are the latest installment in a seemingly unending series of investigations, indictments, and convictions into the corrupt actions of dozens of public officials. Indeed, New York has been repeatedly dubbed as one of, if not the most, corrupt states in the nation. At least 33 legislators have left office since 2000 due to corruption-related issues.
The groups urged the state’s leaders to approve a package of Restore Public Trust reforms that includes:
- Clean Contracting. Basic accountability measures that would result in an open, ethical, and efficient way to award government contracts appropriations, an area which was identified as a key problem in the indictments of the governor’s top aides.
- Real Budget Transparency. Make lump-sum budget appropriations and the resulting expenditures fully transparent.
- Ban “Pay to Play.” Strict “pay to play” restrictions on state vendors. The U.S. Attorney’s charges that $800m in state contracts were rigged to benefit campaign contributors to the governor underscores the need to strictly limit contributions from those seeking state contracts.
- Close “LLC Loophole.” Ban unlimited campaign contributions via Limited Liability Companies. LLCs have been at the heart of some of Albany’s largest scandals.
- Strict Limits on Outside Income. Real limits on the outside income for legislators and the executive branch. Moonlighting by top legislative leaders and top members of the executive branch has triggered indictments by the federal prosecutors.
- Effective Watchdogs. Truly independent, effective, well-resourced, ethics enforcement agencies are needed (e.g. JCOPE, SBOE, ABO).
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