Over the past decades, New Yorkers have seen a seemingly endless parade of scandals, corruption and abuse of power that has forced out two former Governors, two Senate leaders, a state Attorney General, an Assembly Speaker and a state Comptroller, among others.
With Andrew Cuomo’s resignation, the state Legislature and new Governor have two choices: They can mouth code words about “getting back to work” that may mean that nothing will change in Albany, or they can strive for lasting reforms that put the public first and institutionalize new norms of professionalism and oversight.
Here is what we would like to see happen in the near future as the first steps on the long journey to restoring public trust:
- At a minimum, the Assembly must continue their own investigation into a host of matters involving misconduct by the Cuomo administration. We ask the Assembly to publish a report that details the findings, documents and any other evidence related to their investigations into all of the Governor’s scandals, including sexual harassment, the use of public resources for his $5 million book deal, lying about COVID-19 nursing home deaths, and any other inquiries related to members of his administration.
- Governor Cuomo must immediately publicly agree to submit to the Comptroller all proposed contracts removed from OSC preclearance and approval. Most recently, Governor Cuomo’s gun violence order EO 211 suspended the Comptroller’s review of these contracts, which were previously under the Comptroller’s jurisdiction to review. Previously, Governor Cuomo has removed the Comptroller from preclearance through actions in the state budget and other executive orders. No new contracts should be entered into by Governor Cuomo or Budget Director Robert Mujica without Comptroller review regardless of any prior exceptions. The Legislature should also consider passing a joint resolution to overturn that portion of EO 211.
- Replace New York’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) with an independent ethics body. JCOPE has zero credibility. We welcome Senator Alessandra Biaggi’s upcoming August 25th hearing on ethics enforcement and oversight.
- Attorney General Letitia James should thoroughly investigate the Cuomo administration about COVID nursing home deaths and the Governor’s book deal, per the referral from the State Comptroller, and issue a public report. (We appreciate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins’s call for further investigations and encourage Speaker Carl Heastie to follow suit.)
- The US Attorney should continue investigating the Cuomo administration’s alleged submission of false statistics to the federal government that grossly understated COVID nursing home deaths.
- Andrew Cuomo should either refund contributions to his $18m campaign war chest to all his donors, or donate the funds to charity. A former governor with resources this massive can have a huge impact on New York’s democracy.
For more information:
John Kaehny, Reinvent Albany: 917-388-9087
Ben Weinberg, Citizens Union: 347-291-4199
Susan Lerner, Common Cause NY: 917-670-5670
Jennifer Wilson, League of Women Voters NYS: 646-361-7494
Blair Horner, NYPIRG: 518-727-4506