A Rallying Call for Ethics Reform and Greater Transparency in Albany

A legislative column by Assemblyman David DiPietro (R,C-East Aurora)
October 3, 2017

New York is a leader among the states in our great country for many things, but we have garnered a deserved reputation as one of the most corrupt. This is a systemic problem that erodes the public trust and undermines efforts to deliver functional, sound governance and policy. I’m working with my colleagues in the Assembly Minority Conference to change Albany’s culture and bring transparency and accountability to the capital.

Albany’s ethical issues are numerous but some are very apparent. The most glaring is powerful people abusing the trust placed in them for personal gain. New Yorkers couldn’t turn on the news without consuming updates on high-profile corruption trials involving disgraced, long-time legislative leaders like Sheldon Silver.

Then there’s the issues surrounding systemic flaws in oversight and accountability such as when two of governor Cuomo’s top aides were arrested on suspicion of bid-rigging and bribery. The investigation laid bare a procurement system that seemed designed to reward loyal donors and benefit politicians, not protect hardworking taxpayers.

Not to mention our ethical issues that are literally hidden by the cover of darkness, such as the broken budget process the details of which are contrived by three power brokers behind closed doors and then passed by exhausted legislators in the middle of the night.

The Assembly Minority Conference is pushing back against public corruption in all of its corrosive forms and bringing sunlight to these shadowy practices. We sponsor the Public Officers Accountability Act (A5864), legislation which imposes term limits on committee chairs, the speaker and legislative leaders. New Yorkers deserve public policy shaped by fresh ideas, not the special interest groups who donate to the same cabal of power brokers year after year.

I sponsored a bill (A4659), stripping pensions from politicians convicted of corruption. After they’ve betrayed the public, the public shouldn’t keep paying them; middle class families should be saving their money and be free to use it as they wish. They shouldn’t be taxed to buy corrupt politicians a lake house.

We’re standing up for our ethical values and fighting to make Albany open and transparent.

The ultimate solution to these problems, however, lies in limiting the size of our government. By its very nature this fix would place boundaries on how powerful government officials can become relative to hardworking citizens. We must focus on what the founders intended for us, a government that is truly limited it its scope. That limitation protects the people from corrupt overreaches of greed and power, like multi-million dollar economic stimulus packages like the Buffalo Billion that become breeding grounds for corruption.

You might be asking yourself what you can do to help. Becoming more civic-minded and paying attention to state government is a great start. Watch where your tax dollars go. We can work together to beat back a progressive agenda that is ripe for corruption, and I will do my part to bring your voice to the halls of the Assembly. Together, we’ll demand a transparent and efficient government.