Closing the Bruno gap

 

By Casey Seiler


Feature article in the Times Union


State Sen. Daniel Squadron says the ethics package introduced by Democrats will close the “Bruno gap” in the state’s disclosure laws. This is the same package that failed to pass in September due to (pick one) Democratic partisan game-playing/Republican intransigence/both.


The title of this press release will have a special albeit unintended significance for all of us whose pioneer ancestors survived the brutal winter of 1872 snowbound in Colorado’s rugged Bruno Gap:


    Squadron/Sampson Reform Package Fills the “Bruno Gap” in State Ethics Law


    State Senator Daniel Squadron detailed today how the ethics reform package he sponsors with Senate Majority Conference Leader John L. Sampson would help prevent the kind of alleged ethical misconduct for which former Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno is on trial.


    The Squadron/Sampson package would institute the following reforms, addressing many of the charges brought against former Senator Bruno:


        * New reporting requirements for consulting services: The indictment charges that Senator Bruno received millions in “consulting fees” from various clients.  The Squadron/Sampson package requires public officials to report annually the names of consulting clients, and include the value of compensation received and a description of the services provided. The current ethics law contains no such requirement for public officials;
        * Increased transparency of public officials’ business dealings with lobbyists: requires both public officers and lobbyists to provide detailed reports of their business dealings, including retention and employment, to the relevant ethics commission, creating a real “belt and suspenders” approach to reporting that does not exist under current ethics laws;
        * Increased financial disclosure: makes public categories of value (including value of outside income) and adds an additional category of value ($1,000,000 or over, up from $250,000 or over), making it much easier to ascertain if and when lawmakers are being enriched from outside employment;
        * Independent investigations: creates an independent investigatory body, with subpoena power, within the legislature to fully investigate any questionable or suspicious business relationships.
        * Random reviews of disclosure forms: creates a program of random reviews of annual statements of financial disclosure to ensure full and accurate reporting.


More after the jump.


        Senator Squadron said, “Today, with the trial of former Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno underway, a spotlight shines on the lax culture that has been the status quo in Albany for far too long. We have got to fill the huge gap – the “Bruno Gap” – in our state’s ethics law. The time has come for the legislature to say, ‘Enough is enough.’ We must pass ethics reform into law now.”


        The Squadron/Sampson package has received broad support from good government and reform groups across New York, including the Citizens Union of the City of New York, Common Cause, the League of Women Voters of New York State, and the New York Public Interest Research Group.


 

Publication date: 
Tuesday, November 3, 2009 - 00:00