Common Cause New York

Governor Andrew Cuomo / Flickr

An ethics reform measure approved by the New York State Legislature at the end of the legislative session still hasn’t been signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. And some good-government groups say it shouldn’t.

During a year where both former leaders of the legislature were sentenced to lengthy prison terms for corruption after they abused their sources of outside income, Cuomo said he would seek to strictly limit lawmakers’ ability to earn extra pay.

Karen Dewitt / WRVO News

Government reform groups say you can add one more item to the long list of reforms that they believe are needed in Albany. They say limits are needed on campaign contributions to county political committees. The committees collection and distribution of money factor into a growing criminal case against New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration, and upstate Senate races in 2014.

Ed Uthman / Flickr

Some lobbyists, as well as government reform groups, say a new rule approved by the state’s ethics commission that would require them to report contact with the news media in some cases, violates First Amendment rights and would have chilling effect.

The proposal by the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) would require public relations consultants to file periodic reports with the commission detailing their calls to the news media if the purpose of the call is to promote an issue or point of view from a paid client.  

New York State Senate

Gov. Andrew Cuomo continues to say that he will propose major reforms in the new year in the wake of the conviction of the two top legislative leaders on multiple corruption charges. But, the governor, in a radio interview, said there’s only so far that he can go to reign in campaign donations.

sebastien.barre / Flickr

A study by a reform group finds that if New York were to ban outside income for lawmakers, it would actually effect only a small number of legislators.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

The second of the state legislature’s two former leaders has now been convicted on multiple corruption charges after a jury lost no time in finding former Senate Leader Dean Skelos and son Adam guilty on all eight counts.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo


At a hearing held by the New York State Assembly on expanded voting, advocates argued that New York needs to join more than half of the other states who offer some kind of extended voting.

New York state has among the lowest voter turn out rate in the country, ranking 46th out of 50th in the 2014 statewide elections, which included the race for governor.

New York State Board of Elections

Next month voters will decide whether they want to change the way redistricting is done in New York state by voting on a ballet amendment that would change the state’s constitution. But there are different opinions over whether the amendment actually gets rid of gerrymandering or not.

NYS Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment

Reform groups are split over the merits of a November ballot item to change the way new legislative and congressional districts are drawn in New York.

Some groups see the amendment as an opportunity to finally end rampant gerrymandering of Senate and Assembly districts in New York.  Others fear it would just solidify legislative control of a process that allows legislative leaders to draw districts that suit their own political interests.

Karen DeWitt

Government reform groups are beginning their push early to convince voters to reject an amendment on redistricting that will be on the state’s November ballot. They say it’s a sham that does not offer the changes it promises.

The state’s comptroller says he won’t be participating in a new pilot public campaign finance program agreed to in the state budget, and government reform groups say they don’t blame him.

Saying he won’t be a “convenient sacrificial lamb,” state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli says he won’t opt in to a test system for public campaign finance that applies only to his office, and would use money from the comptroller’s unclaimed funds to pay for it.  

-JvL- / Flickr

The New York state legislature now has 11 unfilled seats, after one Assemblyman resigned over a sexual harassment scandal and another was expelled after being convicted of a felony. But it could be another year before those seats are filled.

In recent days, Assemblyman Eric Stevenson of the Bronx was automatically ousted from the Assembly when he was convicted on felony bribery charges. Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak, of Cheektowaga, resigned under pressure after seven women accused him of sexual harassment.

A leading government reform group has some advice for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Moreland Act Commission’s ongoing investigations. They say look at a major loophole that has allowed $98 million in unlimited donations to flow into what’s known as party housekeeping accounts.

Karen DeWitt/WRVO

Hundreds gathered at the state Capitol to rally for public financing of political campaigns. The measure remains in limbo in the state Senate and Gov. Andrew Cuomo faces questions on whether he’s working hard enough for the proposal to pass.

They came in buses from all over New York to give state lawmakers their message -- big money is corrupting politics. They say the state should adopt New York City’s public campaign finance system, which allows candidates to match every dollar they collect in small donations with seven dollars of government funds.