April 26th, 2011
People have been wondering if Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been resting up since his big budget win. Legislators have been out of Albany for over a week–working in their districts–and Cuomo has been just about as out of sight as they have. “Why isn’t he spending is political capital?” some wondered. But fear not–Cuomo has returned with some major policy initiatives.
Cuomo’s office just announced a ban in the insurance department on any lobbyist, elected official or placement agent from pension fund business and announced a program bill that would prohibit, “any state employee or elected official convicted of a felony in relation to their office from receiving their taxpayer-funded pension.”
The bill is in reaction to the sentencing of former comptroller Alan Hevesi.
Here is the full release from Cuomo’s office:
GOVERNOR CUOMO DIRECTS INSURANCE DEPARTMENT TO ISSUE PERMANENT REGULATIONS BANNING ELECTED OFFICIALS, LOBBYISTS AND PLACEMENT AGENTS FROM PENSION FUND BUSINESS AND ELIMINATING “PAY-TO-PLAY”
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that he is directing the Insurance Department to issue permanent regulations banning placement agents, lobbyists and, for the first time, elected officials from any pension fund business. The new regulations will also contain new provisions that will permanently ban “pay-to-play” at the pension fund.
“It is long past time that we learned the lessons of the Hevesi case and made permanent changes to our system that will stop the culture of corruption,” Governor Cuomo said. “In case after case in the pension fund investigation, we saw the systemic abuse of the pension fund by public officials and those seeking quick profits at the expense of taxpayers. Our mission now must be to protect public and taxpayer dollars from being further abused by elected officials who misuse their office and violate the law.”
Previously, the Insurance Department issued temporary emergency regulations as a result of Governor Cuomo’s investigation of the state pension fund as Attorney General. These temporary regulations will be made permanent and strengthened.
The new regulations will, for the first time, ban the involvement of elected officials in any pension fund business. This will increase the integrity of the fund and prevent political favoritism and political pressure from tainting pension fund deals.
“The pension fund should be kept pure, and money belonging to taxpayers should not be the plaything of elected officials,” said Governor Cuomo.
The new regulations will include:
∑ A permanent ban on elected officials, lobbyists and all placement agents, whether paid or unpaid, which have been a source of conflicts of interest with the pension fund.
∑ Impose a higher standard of conduct: The new regulation will prohibit (1) improper relationships between pension fund officials and an investment firm’s personnel or agents, (2) “revolving door” employment by investment firms of former public pension fund officials and employees, and (3) improper gifts by investment firms to public pension fund employees and officials.
∑ A prohibition on firms that make contributions to the Comptroller: The regulation will also ban investment firms that directly or indirectly make campaign contributions, charitable contributions, or gifts to the Comptroller.
In the wake of the sentencing of Alan Hevesi, the Governor also announced that he will submit a program bill prohibiting any state employee or elected official convicted of a felony in relation to their office from receiving their taxpayer-funded pension. Currently, New York public officials can still receive pensions even after having been convicted of a felony for a crime directly related to their official activities.
Former state Comptroller Alan Hevesi was recently sentenced to 1 to 4 years in prison for taking part in an elaborate scheme where he traded influence and investment in the state pension system for campaign contributions. Then-Attorney General Cuomo commenced a sweeping investigation into the matter, which led to the conviction of Hevesi and seven other prominent figures and recovered more than $170 million in taxpayer money.By David King on April 26, 2011, 2:39 pm
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