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Ethics Reform

Ethics Reform

  • Focused on Fighting Trump, is Schneiderman Looking Away from Albany Reform?

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    AG Eric Schneiderman (photo: @Schneiderman)


    New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has quickly become one of President Donald Trump’s leading opponents, using the levers of his office to litigate against Trump’s policies, and has put New York at the forefront of efforts to resist the new Republican administration’s agenda.

    Speaking at a Tuesday breakfast event hosted by the Association For A Better New York (ABNY), Schneiderman, a second-term Democrat, discussed his role in the Trump era, which has made his focus

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  • Will Latest Indictment Give New Life to Ethics Reform in Albany? Don’t Bet On It

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    State Sen. Rob Ortt (photo: @SenatorOrtt)


    Corruption charges brought against a member of the state Senate Republican majority Wednesday have provided an opportunity for Democrats to jumpstart the seemingly dormant conversation on government ethics as state budget negotiations enter their final week.

    Senator Rob Ortt, of Niagara County, pleaded not guilty in Albany County Court Thursday morning, following his indictment on three felony counts of filing a false instrument, ...

  • Since State of the State, Cuomo Silent on Ethics Reform

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    Gov. Cuomo (photo: Governor's Office, flickr)


    For the second year in a row, in his January State of the State, Governor Andrew Cuomo laid out an ambitious ethics reform agenda that touched on a variety of issues and aimed at restoring public trust in New York State’s scandal-plagued government. But, also for a second year in a row, Cuomo has not followed up with any discernible public push to rally support for that

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  • One-House Budgets Show Little Indication Ethics, Voting & Campaign Finance Reforms Will Advance in Albany

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    Heastie, Cuomo, Flanagan (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Governor's Office)


    In one-house budgets passed this week, the state Legislature showed little evidence that new government ethics, voting, and campaign finance reform measures will be passed in Albany any time soon. This, despite persistent issues with public corruption, antiquated election laws, and the ongoing ability for wealthy interests to donate virtually unlimited sums to politicians.

    Through his January State of the State tour, 2017 policy book, and executive budget, Governor

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  • On Your November Ballot: Stripping Pensions from Corrupt Politicians

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    Sheldon Silver & others in 2011 (photo: The Governor's Office)


    This November, New York voters will get to decide whether state officials who are convicted of public corruption can be stripped of their pensions.

    A government ethics reform bill, jointly passed by the state Legislature Monday for a second time, amends the state constitution and allows the state to reduce or revoke the pension of a public officer that has been convicted of a crime related to his or her official duties.

    Under the measure, a public officer convicted of a crime

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  • Acknowledging Pervasive Corruption, Cuomo Releases 10-Point Government Ethics Agenda

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    Gov. Cuomo (photo: Governor's Office via flickr)


    Governor Andrew Cuomo concluded his three-day, six-stop State of the State tour in Albany Wednesday, though not at the State Capitol, where he and previous governors have typically held a single event. In contrast to previous addresses, most state legislators were not in attendance to hear the governor lay out his agenda for the year.

    Throughout the week, Cuomo released 35 proposals, many of them aimed at lifting the middle class, including tuition-free city and state college for

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  • Donald Trump, New York Corruption & A Loss of Faith in Institutions

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    The 2016 Al Smith Dinner


    Public trust in Washington began diminishing under President Lyndon Johnson over the course of the 1964 presidential election and the escalation of war in Vietnam. Watergate ushered in a new era of distrust in government in the United States as the country’s top elected office was compromised. By 1974, public trust in government dipped below 40 percent for the first time since such records had been kept. 

    As with

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  • It's Time for Wholesale Ethics Reform

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    Sen. Todd Kaminsky, the author (photo: @toddkaminsky)


    The headline is the same. The names are interchangeable.

    And yet, the laws and attitudes stay the same.

    The most recent indictment of Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto should serve as a wakeup call to elected officials and taxpayers alike. The corruption within our governments is pervasive and isn’t going anywhere until we implement comprehensive ethics reform. No one is above the law.

    Having put away both corrupt Democrats and Republicans as a former

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  • Crowded Assembly Field Looks to Quickly Unseat Silver Replacement

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    AD65 candidates at a debate (photo: @FilAmDems)


    In a world where U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara hadn’t turned his eye toward public corruption in state government, Sheldon Silver would likely be running for his 21st term in the Assembly and easily extending by another two years his 40-year reign over Manhattan’s 65th Assembly District.

    In the real world, Silver, who had already resigned the powerful Assembly speakership he held for almost 20 years, was automatically stripped of

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  • Corruption in Albany: Will Anything Really Change?

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    Gov. Cuomo (photo via The Governor's Office on Flickr)


    Can legal restrictions halt corruption in the state Legislature? History suggests that they are necessary but limited.

    A new ethics law, more of the same
    Several state legislators have been charged with corrupt practices in recent years and the leaders of both houses of the Legislature found guilty of violating federal laws. Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos are headed to prison unless their appeals succeed. The

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  • Cuomo’s Minimum Wage Nonprofit Through the Lens of His New Regulatory Scheme

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    photos via The Governor's Office on Flickr


    Earlier this year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo successfully advocated for the passage of a $15 minimum wage plan with the help of major labor unions and a nonprofit they created called The Mario Cuomo Campaign for Economic Justice. Teaming with 1199-SEIU, the health care workers union, and 32BJ-SEIU, the buildings workers union, Cuomo made campaign stops in an RV paid for by the nonprofit, which was funded largely by unions.

    In a complicated confluence of relationships,

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  • For Cuomo, Passing Ethics Bill was Urgent, Signing It is Not

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    Gov. Cuomo during his 2016 State of the State (via The Governor's Office)


    After nearly two months, Governor Andrew Cuomo requested on Friday that the Legislature send him an ethics reform package he personally designed and pushed the Legislature to pass in June with the assistance of a message of necessity he issued to speed the process. The governor now has 10 days to sign it, which he is expected to do.

    Announced by Cuomo late in the legislative session, the actual bill was then a mystery for days before being

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  • In Extended Session, Lawmakers Vote Through Variety of Bills with Little Public Review

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    The Capitol Building (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin, Governor's Office)


    Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders finished protracted and messy end-of-session negotiations on Friday night -- one day after the scheduled end of legislative session -- not with the traditional celebratory press conference, but with a series of press releases. Sent to reporters as bills were still being negotiated, printed, and voted upon Friday night, Cuomo’s public schedule for Saturday put him in the New York City area with no events.

    A press release

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  • Deals Emerge as Albany Legislative Session Moves Toward Conclusion

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    photo via The Governor's Office


    After spending most of what was scheduled to be the last day of legislative session in stop-and-start negotiations, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders appeared on Thursday to reach a framework deal on several big-ticket items, though legislators will continue to negotiate, debate, and vote on Friday.

    After a few issues had been decided on Wednesday, concept agreements emerged Thursday on the process of stripping corrupt lawmakers of their pensions; extending mayoral control of New York City schools for

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  • Much Undecided, Last-Minute Frenzy Starts in Albany

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    Albany leaders (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin, Governor's Office)


    The pace has picked up dramatically in Albany, where lawmakers had avoided any major legislative decisions since passing the budget in April. With three days left in session, dozens upon dozens of bills are being introduced, amended, and passed at a fever pace. And while a couple of deals among the governor and legislative leaders have been announced on somewhat high-profile matters, thornier issues still remain unsettled and many bills are likely to only

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  • Cuomo Launches End-of-Session Addition to Stagnant Ethics Agenda

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    Gov. Cuomo on Wednesday (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin, Governor's Office)


    Last year, with ten days remaining in legislative session and confronted with a major ethics reform proposal from Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters, "Let me make this as a blanket statement: It is late in the day for anything.”

    On Wednesday, with only four days remaining of this

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  • 5 Things State Lawmakers Can Do To Prevent Another Silver

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    Silver, Cuomo, and others (photo via The Governor's Office, 2013)


    Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was perceived by many to be an institution of state government. Having served at the head of the Democrat-controlled Assembly for over a decade, Silver’s rule was iron-fisted and opaque - he could end a political career on a whim, kill a major policy initiative with a quiet grumble, and maneuver millions of dollars in state cash to recipients of his choice.

    That all ended last year when Silver was indicted by the U.S. Attorney on multiple

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  • Special Election Results Buoy Hopes for Reform

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    Todd Kaminsky votes for himself Tuesday (photo via @toddkaminsky)


    The polls may be closed but the heated race to replace convicted former Republican Senator Dean Skelos is far from over. Late Tuesday night Assemblymember Todd Kaminsky, a Democrat, declared victory while Republican candidate Chris McGrath refused to concede, saying the race would be decided by absentee ballots. Only 780 votes separate Kaminsky from McGrath and there are over 2,000 outstanding ballots to be counted. Regardless of the results the pair may face off again in November when the

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  • Legislative Days Quickly Dwindle, Intensifying Worry Over Ethics

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    Rally in the capital


    For the past two weeks state legislators have been preoccupied by the New York presidential primary. They’ve been charmed by candidates like Hillary Clinton and John Kasich who’ve come to the capital to pitch their campaigns and ask for support; and by Donald Trump and Ted Cruz who’ve invited them to attend large rallies.

    Legislators have been so distracted that the first two weeks of post-budget session have slipped by without much real legislative action, despite the fact that there is a long list of high-profile issues unsettled in the budget.

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  • Major City Issues at Play in Politically Charged, Post-Budget Legislative Session

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    Gov. Cuomo announces the budget deal (photo via The Governor's Office)


    Governor Andrew Cuomo dismissed the idea of extending state government's legislative session this year to tackle ethics reform during an appearance in Binghamton on Wednesday. "We have a relatively light agenda because we did so much work in the budget," the governor said. "We passed the minimum wage increase, we passed paid family leave, we passed a great package for the middle class, we passed a great package for upstate New York, more education

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  • State Budget Agreement: By the Numbers

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    Gov. Cuomo outlines the budget agreement (photo via The Governor's Office)


    AGov. Andrew Cuomo welcomed reporters into the Capitol's Red Room for the first time in nearly a year to announce a budget deal at 8:30 p.m. Thursday night. The announcement came as both houses of the Legislature took a break from voting on budget bills that had already been introduced, yet neither legislative majority leader joined Cuomo for the press conference.

    Legislators from the minorities of the two houses lamented having little time to

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  • In Albany, Sunshine Week Starts with Darkness

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    Heastie, Cuomo, & Flanagan (l-r) in 2015 (photo via The Governor's Office) 


    The first Sunshine Week following the convictions of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos got off to an inauspicious start Monday as representatives of the state's major good government groups gathered in Albany to give their evaluation of the ethics reforms put forward in the one-house budgets released by the Assembly and Senate majorities over the weekend.

    "Unfortunately with a late Friday release what we're

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  • Heastie Outlines Assembly Ethics Plan

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    Carl Heastie (photo: Office of the Governor - Kevin P. Coughlin)


    In a major departure from his predecessor, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie publicly laid out his conference's proposals for government ethics reform during a wide-ranging speech and interview Friday morning. At a breakfast event hosted by Crain's New York Business, Heastie explained the proposals for preventing government corruption that will be contained in the Assembly's one-house budget, the release of which is key to intensifying negotiations with Governor Andrew Cuomo and Senate Majority

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  • In Albany, Bharara Challenges Lawmakers to Act, Not Enable

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    Preet Bharara (photo: Buck Ennis)


    Asked how he can spur legislators to enact major ethics reforms during his visit to Albany on Monday, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said he has a "particularly blunt incentive...the avoidance of prison." The reminder from Bharara comes as legislative leaders and Gov. Andrew Cuomo are quietly discussing possible ethics reforms behind closed doors--reforms none of them have appeared interested in discussing publicly since Cuomo outlined his platform in his State of the State address last month.

    Speaking before a captive audience, Bharara

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  • The Wisdom of Primaries

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    Zephyr Teachout, in yellow, with "fractivists" (photo: @zephyrteachout)


    In her zeal to attach herself to Barack Obama at the recent Democratic debate in Charleston, Hillary Clinton at one point issued a somewhat unexpected line of attack. In advance of the 2012 campaign, Clinton charged, Bernie Sanders had "publicly sought someone to run in a primary against President Obama." 

    There's no disputing that Sanders did in fact express such a position, based on his concern that Obama was moving to the right during his first term. But during

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