Governor Andrew Cuomo vowed to clean up the almost cartoonish level of corruption in Albany by setting up an independent special investigative committee. The New York Daily News is reporting that Cuomo’s plan would allow for the committee to have subpoena power to probe the offices of any lawmakers suspected of breaking the rules.
The sheer volume of corruption scandals piling up in Albany in recent years has spurred Cuomo to take action into his own hands. After legislative leaders failed to come up with a package to address the rampant problem on their own, Cuomo is using his power to set up an independent investigative committee that he hopes will restore people’s image of the state government.
“I believe it hurts the state and I believe it hurts the level of trust with state government … I’m going to restore that level of trust,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo introduced an extensive anti-corruption package, but lawmakers have dragged their feet. The package includes making it a crime for lawmakers who fail to report attempted bribes, making it easier for district attorneys to bring cases against suspected lawmakers, reforming the campaign finance system and creating a public financing option for campaigns. Cuomo also wants to introduce an independent enforcement unit to the state Board of Elections.
Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver argued to include legislative representation on the Board of Elections enforcement unit and Republicans were opposed to using taxpayer money to finance campaigns, points which led to the failure of the legislature to go along with Cuomo’s measures. As a result, Cuomo concluded that the legislature is happy with just policing themselves, a result he could not accept, leading to the latest proposal of an independent panel.
In response, lawmakers responded with indifference to Cuomo’s push to clean up Albany, instead focusing attention on legislation they wish to pass.
“We are focused on closing out the legislative session, including passing the Women’s Equality Act,” a spokesman for Silver said in light of Cuomo’s plans.
Assemblyman Peter Abbate seemed dismissive when questioned on Cuomo’s anti-corruption plans and wondered whether the independent commission will in turn examine the governor’s actions.
“That’s him. I don’t know what he’s up to. We’re trying to complete our work — a lot of the things are what he wants us to do,” Abbate told the Daily News.