The arrests of two state lawmakers on federal corruption charges last week were unwelcome reminders that New York is among the nation’s go-to destinations for political scandal, graft and greed. They also helped to remind New Yorkers about how difficult it is to stop unscrupulous lawmakers from violating the public trust.
Bill Mahoney of the New York Public Interest Research Group tells the Gotham Gazette that some progress has been made in recent years in preventing corruption in Albany, but that the entire culture of the capital is to blame. To stem the tide of corruption, reformers have called for changes to the state campaign finance system (modeled after the city's much-lauded system) and expanding the power of the state attorney general to investigate public corruption.
One Republican consultant said the city's campaign finance system shouldn't be a model because it is too easy to game (Newsday). Meanwhile, some commentators are blaming Gov. Andrew Cuomo for failing to push hard enough for reforms. "At best, the governor made no impact on public integrity among New York’s native criminal class," wrote columnist Michael Goodwin in The New York Post over the weekend.
The Wall Street Journal reports in a story based on anonymous sources that the Cuomo administration is considering new policy remedies. Fred Dickers writes in the Post that the Cuomo administration is weighing whether to oust Assembly Leader Sheldon Silver over the scandals.