AG Schneiderman OK with joint policing of campaign finance, ethics reform - 04/27/13


For weeks Governor Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders have been discussing how to reform campaigns and ethics in the state. On Friday Cuomo said a reform package is one of a handful of issues he wants dealt with this legislative session.

There have been many campaign finance and ethics reform proposals from just about every branch of government, from both parties, over the past couple of weeks. Senate democrats have proposed taking away pensions from lawmakers who breach the public's trust. Senate IDC members are calling for public funds to be used in campaigns, assembly democrats also called for a match of taxpayer dollars to private donations. Just this past week assembly republicans pushed for recall elections.

Governor Cuomo has outlined his own vision for what campaign and ethics reform would look like. The Governor has not been shy in saying he wants public money to be used in campaigns. During a town hall type conference call with taxpayers, earlier this year, Cuomo said the cost of such a plan could be around $30 million.

Opponents of public funds being used in campaigns say the cost could be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

On Friday the governor did not rule out a non budget stream of revenue to fund the initiative. Cuomo has previously stated he likes New York City's method of using public funds in campaigns. The program was fostered by former Mayor Ed Koch and uses a 6 to 1 match.

Senate Republicans have said publicly they do not want to use taxpayer dollars for campaigns.

Another push Cuomo is making, as possibly a large bill that encompasses both campaign and ethics reform, is stiffer penalties for those who misuse public dollars and solicit or accept bribes. To oversee the campaigns and donations Cuomo has suggested having a panel at the Board of Elections headed by someone he appoints.

On Saturday New York State Attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, said his office is capable and willing to be a part of the oversight.

"I have a lot of strong opinions on this," Schneiderman told me at an event in Albany.  "I support the governor's efforts to tighten up some areas on the penal law to make it easier for us to prosecute things like bribery, I also support beefing up the board of elections and increasing enforcement."

Schneiderman, a former state senator, says he is a "big believer" in public financing and reform. As far as policing it, the attorney general believes in a joint effort.

"I think the more cops on the beat the better," Schneiderman said. "I think strengthening the board of election is essential. I favor an all levers approach in this particular area." 

 

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