New law closes 'Bruno gap'

Daniel L. Squadron

February 16, 2010

ALBANY -- A state law signed Friday bars state officials from using public property or employees for private business or any other non-governmental purpose for which they get money.

The measure signed by Gov. David Paterson bars legislators, officers and employees from taking "unwarranted privileges" with state goods and services and makes that felony fraud when it's ongoing with a value of at least $1,000.

It was effective immediately. Paterson had said it would "close a small but dangerous hole in our ethics laws."

In his sponsor's memo, Assemblyman William Magnarelli, D-Syracuse, said the old law did not explicitly prohibit mixing state and private business.

"With this law we will begin to have rules on the state level about preventing the mixture of outside business and public work," said Sen. Daniel Squadron, D-Manhattan, who sponsored it. "It's not going to fundamentally change everything about how Albany works, of course. It will begin the process."

Squadron said it would close what he called "the Bruno gap," though they still need to strengthen disclosures of outside income, bolster campaign finance laws and establish independent ethics oversight.

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