Stain Remover: For the third time in 25 years, Albany attempts to get ethics reform right

Daniel L. Squadron

April 26, 2011

NY Capitol News

Andrew J. Hawkins
April 25, 2011

After months of bitter dispute, the Cuomo administration and legislative leaders finally reached a deal to strengthen the state’s ethics code. The agreement, which would require more comprehensive financial disclosure statements and ban pay-for-play, was announced just as polling showed the public’s confidence in state government at an all-time low.

“I think we have the seeds of a solution,” the Senate Republican leader told a reporter.

The governor agreed, but with some caveats.

“This is not a perfect bill,” he said at a news conference. “But I think the package is the best ever put together, certainly in this state — that’s beyond contest.”

This happened in 1987, when then-Gov. Mario Cuomo and Senate Republicans, led by Warren Anderson, and Assembly Democrats, led by Mel Miller, passed sweeping ethics reform which, at the time, was deemed by experts to be the toughest in the nation.

Unfortunately, almost 25 years later, not much has changed. If anything, the problem has gotten much worse. By the latest count, 14 state elected officials have been indicted, convicted or sent to jail on corruption charges over the last decade. Meanwhile, good-government groups worry privately that the latest attempt at reform will be watered down, just as it has been in the past.

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