A Letter to the Editor by Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci – Where Is The Reform?
Recently, a multitude of sexual harassment allegations, the arrest of the former state Assembly Speaker and other ethical transgressions have made national headlines, causing a dark cloud to be cast over the state Capitol. To start this year, the Assembly ground to a halt after the leader of our chamber was removed from power, and we’ve spent just eight hours over the course of seven different days in session. After hearing these stories, I don’t blame the public for losing trust in their legislators. But I am here to tell you that efforts are being made to clean up Albany.
I am a proud co-sponsor to some of the toughest ethics laws in the nation and will continue to fight for the ethics reform New York State deserves. A good start to end political corruption would be for the Legislature to pass the Public Officers Accountability Act, which was first introduced in 2013 but continues to be blocked by the Assembly Majority. The act would:
- Ban individuals convicted of felonies related to official duties from future public employment, lobbying activity or bidding on state contracts;
- Issue term limits for legislative leadership positions, including committee chairmanships;
- Require that the campaign funds of public officials convicted of a felony are returned to donors or turned over to charity; and
- Create new crimes and increase penalties for those who act against the public trust or fail to report corruption.
I would like to see even tougher laws be implemented into this bill by creating term limits for all elected officials and pension forfeitures for public officials convicted of a felony. We should not let one individual become too powerful in our state government. We’ve seen what can happen when our legislative leaders gain too much power; the former Assembly Speaker of two decades was arrested in January for allegedly receiving millions of dollars in bribes and using his office to benefit a law firm where he was on the payroll. This is the same speaker accused of being an abettor in a sexual harassment lawsuit against another assemblyman, which has cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal representation fees.
As a Legislature, our priority must be to gain the public’s trust back. We need to continue to weed out the politicians with no integrity by passing the Public Officers Accountability Act. This could bring real change to New York State, something New Yorkers have been waiting for far too long.