ethics reform

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Another sitting state legislator, Sen. Rob Ortt, has been indicted on corruption charges, along with George Maziarz, who held the western New York Senate seat before him. The indictments come as ethics reform proposals in the state budget are faltering.

Ortt is accused of creating a no-show job for his wife to pad his own salary while he was mayor of North Tonawanda in Niagara County.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

The next two weeks at the New York State Capitol are going to be very busy as lawmakers face the deadline for a new budget. Several issues remain unresolved.

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Now that Preet Bharara is no longer the U.S. Attorney for the southern district of New York, some in Albany wonder who will investigate potential corruption now.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Reform advocates are taking exception to remarks made by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who said there is already enough oversight of potentially corrupt activities in Albany.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo saved his ethics proposals for the last stop of his State of the State tour in Albany, where he released a 10-point plan to address rampant corruption that has reached his own administration.

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An ethics reform proposal quietly circulated between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders for a possible special session that also could include a pay raise is getting blasted by the state’s attorney general as possibly unconstitutional.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

State lawmakers are considering whether to have a special session this month where they would vote on, among other things, a pay raise for themselves.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo said one of the reasons he is actively campaigning for Democrats to take over the New York State Senate is that he believes he will have more success getting ethics changes done without the GOP in charge.

Cuomo, who’s been holding rallies for Democratic candidates in key Senate races, said he thinks a legislature controlled by Democrats will be more willing to approve changes to address a wave of scandals plaguing state government.

Karen Dewitt / WRVO News

Reform groups say in light of the criminal charges against some of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s former associates, there are a number of changes that should be made to stop more corruption in the future.

The federal charges of bid-rigging and bribery center on Cuomo’s key economic development programs, including the Buffalo Billion.

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It’s looking less likely that state lawmakers will be getting a long-awaited pay raise next year. A commission designed to take politics out of the issue is now coming under political pressure to not grant the salary increase.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo believes legislation signed last week meant to tighten campaign finance rules is a step towards fighting the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision, which has allowed political spending by groups like corporations and unions to grow dramatically. The new legislation includes restrictions on independent group expenditures, which Cuomo says cuts to the core of who’s giving money to what candidate.

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.

-JvL- / Flickr

What began in January as an ambitious reform package to address a wave of corruption at the Capitol, proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, dwindled to just two proposals by the time the session closed in the pre-dawn hours of Saturday morning. Cuomo had proposed a number of changes in January to react to a wave of corruption that led to the convictions of the two former leader of the legislature on felony corruption charges.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

With the legislative session down to the wire, groups for and against bills — including expansion of Uber ride services and ethics reform — came to the Capitol to make their voices heard.

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Expectations for major ethics reform in the state legislature are low, even though both former leaders of the legislature are facing prison time for corruption. With just over a week to go before the session ends, only one measure — to take back the pensions of lawmakers who are convicted felons — seems to be in play.

Karen Dewitt / WRVO News

With just a few weeks left until the end of the legislative session, a new poll finds New York voters are still craving reform in state government, and they’d rather not see a new law to expand state gambling by legalizing daily fantasy sports.

For the second month in a row, the Siena College poll reports that nearly 100 percent of those surveyed want something done about the corruption in Albany that’s led to both former leaders of the legislature sentenced to prison and the U.S. attorney’s investigation of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s economic development programs.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

State Sen. John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse), the second highest ranking member of the state Senate, is weighing in on what ethics reforms may or may not get passed before the end of the legislative session in June. There are a number of reforms DeFrancisco said he would support as long as there are no exceptions.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo has released a bill to close a loophole that allows for unlimited big money donations to candidates. The LLC loophole has played a key role in the federal corruption trials of both former leaders of the state legislature, and may be a factor in the ongoing federal investigation of the governor’s economic development projects.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

It’s just over three weeks until the legislative session is scheduled to end, and hopes for reform are fading, during an unprecedented level of corruption in state government.

Courtesy of New York State Assembly

Before the state’s legislative session ends in mid-June, local lawmakers are weighing in on what can be accomplished. Democratic Assemblyman Al Stirpe of Syracuse said two big issues at the top of lawmakers’ lists include addressing the heroin and opioid epidemic and ethics reform.  

Karen Dewitt / WRVO News File Photo

Another once-powerful New York state politician has been sentenced to prison.

In federal court Thursday, Dean Skelos received five years for corruption; his son, Adam, got a 6½-year sentence.

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.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo concedes that ethics reform is unlikely to be a part of the New York state budget this year, despite the conviction of the two former legislative leaders on major corruption charges. Cuomo blames the legislature for lack of will to enact changes.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

The New York State Assembly and Senate have released budget positions that focus on taxes and spending policies, but very little on ethics reform, even though both former leaders of the legislature face prison sentences over corruption convictions.   

governorandrewcuomo / via Flickr

A call by government reform groups for an open leaders meeting on ethics reform tuned into a spat between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the groups themselves.

The New York Public Interest Research Group, Citizens Union, the League of Women Voters, and Common Cause, are calling for an end to the long Albany tradition of closed door meetings between the governor and legislative leaders where they make key decisions on the budget and other issues, known as three men in a room. They want a leaders meeting, open to the public, to discuss ethics reform.

stgermh / Flickr

In less than a month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers will get the chance to make major ethics fixes as part of the state budget. But,  so far, there’s been little focus on responding to corruption scandals that led to the two legislative leaders facing long prison terms.

It seems a unique moment ,tailored for major reforms in the way Albany works. Both the leader of the Senate and the Assembly have been arrested, tried and convicted in the past year, on major corruption charges, and the U.S. Attorney may still be investigating others.

governorandrewcuomo

A poll finds that voters overwhelmingly support a number of Gov. andrew Cuomo’s priorities for 2016, but New Yorkers still hold mixed views about the governor himself.

Governor Andrew Cuomo / Flickr

Reform groups are giving Gov. Andrew Cuomo an A for effort on his ethics proposals, but they say some of them need to go further, and Cuomo needs to follow through and actually get the plans enacted into law.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo released his State of the State message and $143 billion budget spending plan, which includes nearly $1 billion more for schools next year and ethics reforms.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo admits he is laying out an ambitious agenda for New York state lawmakers this year.  In his State of the State speech today in Albany, Cuomo laid out plans to  spend money on roads, schools, the environment, transportation, homeless shelters and housing. He also asked lawmakers to consider an eight-point ethics reform proposal, a $15 minimum wage and a paid family leave program.

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