Crouch: Albany Needs To Wake Up After Percoco Conviction

A legislative column from Assemblyman Clifford W. Crouch (R-Bainbridge)
March 28, 2018

Over the years, Albany has gained a reputation as a hotbed of corruption. With multiple top government officials being arrested and eventually convicted over the years, this stereotype has been rightfully earned. Corruption has become entrenched in New York state politics to the point that when the Museum of Political Corruption decided to set up shop, it picked no other city but Albany.

With the recent set of convictions being handed to Gov. Cuomo’s former top aide Joe Percoco, and the trials of other associates of his looming, you would imagine ethics reform would be a hot topic in the weeks leading up to the budget deadline.

In fact, it’s colder than ice. Not a word has been mentioned, from a governor who claims to run the toughest administration on corruption that the state has ever seen. Instead we have seen a continued investment into failed economic development initiatives that not only have produced just a handful of jobs, but also a handful of corruption cases.

Now is the time to introduce real ethics reform measures that will force Albany to hold those who abuse their positions of power accountable. The Assembly Minority Conference and I have introduced measures such as the Public Officers Accountability Act (A.5864) that will not only bring transparency to Albany, but also put term limits on legislative leaders, establish a new commission of conduct and make failure to report acts of corruption a criminal offense.

We also introduced measures that would bring light to state economic development programs working to prevent fraud and abuse. Our legislation would require transparency and disclosure of appropriations, require reporting numbers and enact penalties for late reports, and call for the auditing of all state economic development programs to ensure taxpayer money is being used efficiently (A.5657-A). All these measures have been blocked by the Assembly Majority time and time again.

Wouldn’t it be refreshing if the budget process were held up because of negotiations on real ethics reform? That’s sadly a day we’ll never see from this administration with a governor who’s more focused on helping build his national profile than helping our middle class.

How many more top officials have to leave Albany in handcuffs before this Legislature will take action? We must take the necessary steps now to bring an end to Albany’s culture of corruption and restore the public’s faith in government. We can no longer allow corrupt officials to take advantage of the public’s trust; the time to act is now.