Since early last year, we watched as Albany’s two former legislative leaders, Dean Skelos and Sheldon Silver, were arrested, convicted and sentenced for using their positions for personal financial gain. Sadly, they are not alone in this criminal breach of the public’s trust; they’ve joined the ranks of 27 other state legislators convicted since 2003.
Albany’s response has been silence.
As your state senator, I will vote for every single piece of legislation that punishes corrupt politicians and makes it harder for them to abuse their power. In the instances of Skelos and Silver, simple remedies could have prevented, or at least hindered, their crimes, measures that the State Senate refused to move on, including:
- Banning all outside income for legislators
- Closing the LLC loophole that shields big donors behind anonymous shell corporations
- Requiring legislators to disclose any personal business dealings that could affect their vote
Right now in New York State corrupt politicians get to keep six-figure pensions while sitting in a jail cell for monetizing their office. It’s outrageous. We need to ban convicted politicians from collecting a publicly funded pension, and demand repayment from those already collecting their pension and double-dipping. Corrupt politicians should be punished, not rewarded for their crimes.
Banning the Use Campaign Contributions for Personal Expenses
Before it was prematurely shut down, the 2015 Moreland Commission on Public Corruption found repeated instances of elected officials misusing campaign funds for personal purposes. Such practices create an environment that celebrates the pay-to-play culture that has ruined Albany. When politically-connected donors can literally pay for a Senator’s cars and plane tickets (purchased under the guise of “campaign expenses”), it creates the expectation of official acts in return. We need to ban the use of campaign funds for personal expenses like car payments.
Ending Pay-to-Play by Eliminating the Influence of Big Money
I believe that money and special interests have too much power in our government. But every campaign season one or two bad apples decides to donate enormous amounts of money into the local electoral cycle.
This is why I support closing the LLC loophole. The LLC loophole allows corporations and special interest groups to anonymously donate multiple times limited liability corporations, skirting the intent of campaign finance laws. When these groups can provide limitless funding, it's no surprise that their influence on elected officials grows beyond that of the average constituent and eventually emboldens the corrupt to govern on a pay-to-play basis.
If we don’t get the money out of Albany we will never get the honest government and results Long Island needs.
Recalling Elected Officials
When elected officials engage in corrupt behaviors that undermines a municipality’s finances, action must be taken before they can cause further damage. If a municipality’s bond rating were lowered to ‘junk status’ due to reasons directly linked to corrupt actions undertaken by elected officials, residents would be able to petition for a recall of those leaders.