Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposes a five point ethics reform for state government. We at the Cortland Contrarian endorse it. We would like to have term limits applied to state legislators too.
Gov. Cuomo: I propose a dramatic 5 point plan to Clean up Albany and restore trust.
1. We will propose what we call “total disclosure” – the most extensive disclosure of outside income in the United States of America. You have heard the phrase “follow the money”. We’re creating a new expression, “explain the money.” Officials will have to disclose to the public all the outside income they receive, from who, for what and whether there is any connection to the state government or the office that they hold.
2. Public officials who are convicted of public corruption should not have taxpayers pay for their retirement. Therefore, we are proposing a constitutional amendment to require public officials convicted of corruption to forfeit their pensions. Also, the rules of the State Assembly centralized power so that individual members are virtually powerless to move legislation. This is the Assembly’s opportunity to enact a new fair and open system. They should not merely change the ruler but they should use this as an opportunity to reform the rules.
3. Per diems have become backdoor salary supplements. Legislators travel to Albany because they make money on the per diems, believe it or not. We must ensure that per diems are only for actual and necessary costs or paid as a fixed amount. Nothing more. The days when officials make money on per diems must be over.
4. Campaign funds are called campaign funds because they are supposed to be spent on campaigns – hence campaign funds. However, personal use of campaign funds has become another way to supplement income. This is wrong and it must stop this session.
5. Our campaign finance laws are outdated and porous. Housekeeping accounts and LLC loopholes are glaring. Public finance is the only option to ensure democratic access to the system. After the federal Supreme Court case, Citizens United, a state cannot stop money from coming into the electoral system. Independent expenditure committees which are now allowed under the federal law, institutionalize unlimited donations. Fortunately the one thing a state can do is require disclosure. It must be a transparent donation system. We must be able to see the contributions and be able to follow the money. We are proposing the strongest campaign finance disclosure rules in the nation by increasing the frequency and the detail of campaign and independent filing expenditures.