New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. (I, D, WF-Sag Harbor) lauded Governor Cuomo’s recent formation of the “Commission to Investigate Public Corruption” under the Moreland Act and Executive Law Section 63(8) to probe systemic public corruption and the appearance of such corruption in state government, political campaigns and elections in New York State. Assemblyman Thiele thanked the Governor for taking these bold steps to end corruption in New York State government.
Thiele explained the Governor’s action follows several recent proven and alleged incidents of corruption and misconduct by public officials that have shown that current laws are inadequate and reforms are necessary to guard against abuses, ensure accountability in government, address the need for reform in our campaign finance laws, and restore the public’s confidence and trust in state government and state elections.
The Commission to Investigate Public Corruption will be tasked with thoroughly reviewing the adequacy of existing state laws, regulations and procedures involving unethical and unlawful misconduct by public officials, and the electoral process and campaign finance laws. The Commission will also examine whether existing laws have been fairly and vigorously enforced, and what changes must be made to such enforcement. During the Commission’s investigation, it will also review recent instances of reported misconduct by officials to determine causes and adequacy of laws and enforcement tools to more effectively prevent and punish this kind of misconduct in the future. The Commission is directed to make recommendations to toughen and improve existing laws and procedures.
Areas where the Commission will focus its investigation include but are not limited to:
• Criminal statutes for corruption and misconduct by public officials, such as bribery laws
• Campaign financing including but not limited to contribution limits and other restrictions; disclosure of third-party contributions and expenditures; and the effectiveness of existing campaign finance laws.
• Compliance of outside organizations and persons with existing lobbying laws, including but not limited to organizations engaged in lobbying and other efforts to influence public policies and elections, and the effectiveness of such laws.
• Adequacy and enforcement of the State’s election laws and electoral process including: the structure and composition of the State and County Boards of Elections, the Board of Elections’ enforcement, and the effectiveness of and compliance with existing election laws.
The bipartisan Commission, which will include representatives from law enforcement, several District Attorney’s, and election policy experts, is expected to issue a preliminary report on its initial findings and recommendations by December 1, 2013.
“The people deserve a transparent, more accountable government. The people deserve representatives who work for their constituents rather themselves. People deserve a government they can trust.”