|Senator Avella proposes ethics reform package. 'It is a mistake to dismiss ethical issues in Albany as exceptions or blaming a few bad seeds. Even bad seeds germinate.'|
|Text of press release.|
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, January 19th, 2015
Contact: Andrei Vasilescu
(718) 357 3094 | (631) 332-2481
SENATOR AVELLA UNVEILS ETHICS REFORM PACKAGE
(New York, NY) On Friday, State Senator Tony Avella unveiled a set of proposals to effect ethics reform in Albany. The reform package includes budgetary measures, legislative proposals already introduced and new initiatives the Senator will be looking to introduce this legislative session. As a former Chair of the New York Senate’s Ethics Committee and a career-long good government focused elected official, Senator Avella continues his push for a cleaner legislature.
Included in the package are proposals to initiate campaign finance reform, create a firewall between lobbyists and consultants, hold consultants to similar disclosure requirements as lobbyists, reform JCOPE, extend legislative terms, forfeit pensions of convicted elected officials, require bills with majority co-sponsorship to be brought to the floor, and non-partisan special elections. For details on these, please see the attached document.
“It is incredibly important for Albany to prioritize ethics reform this session because the laws it passes will only ever be as good as the elected officials influencing their outcome. It is a mistake to dismiss ethical issues in Albany as exceptions or blaming a few bad seeds. Even bad seeds germinate and, as we’ve seen recently, can stretch as far as Senate and Assembly leadership. This is a systemic problem that will never be addressed if our course of action is to wait and hope that people will do the right thing. What we should do is increase oversight and regulation. What we should do is have a set of incentives to reward those who do the right thing and punish those who do not. What we should do is make 2016 the year that marks a turning point for New York politics,” said State Senator Tony Avella.
The renewed push for ethics reform follows the convictions of Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos on charges of corruption. The very public profile of the cases have spurred momentum behind the movement to reign in Albany corruption.
ETHICS REFORM 2016
o Require consultants to register & report under new consultants act
(Senate Bill S5520)
BILL INTRODUCED ON MAY 14, 2015 WHILE CHAIR TO ETHICS
NO ASSEMBLY SAME AS
IT WOULD REQUIRE REGISTRATION AND DISCLOSURE FOR ALL FIRMS THAT HAVE SUBSTANTIAL CONTACT WITH BOTH ELECTED OFFICIALS AND OUTSIDE CLIENTS, AS MODELED AFTER THE LOBBYING ACT, AS WELL AS SET OUT ANY PENALTIES AND ENFORCEMENT THEREOF.
o Lobbyist/political consultant firewall (Senate Bill S4690) Political Consultants cannot lobby
Lobbyists cannot engage in political consulting
BILL INTRODUCED APRIL 7, 2015 WHILE CHAIR TO ETHICS COMMITTEE ASSEMBLY BILL CARRIED BY AM SANDY GALEF – A6585
THE PURPOSE OF THIS LEGISLATION IS TO REFORM THE STATE'S ETHICS LAWS TO PLACE A FIRE WALL BETWEEN THE ACTIVITIES OF POLITICAL CONSULTANTS WHO HELP TO ELECT STATE GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS AND REGISTERED LOBBYISTS, WHO LOBBY STATE GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS TO OBTAIN OR THWART A SPECIFIED STATE GOVERNMENTAL POLICY.
BILL SPECIFICALLY STATES THAT NO PERSON/ORG ENGAGED IN LOBBYING SHALL ENGAGE IN POLITICAL CONSULTING FOR ANY STATE PUBLIC OFFICIAL, CANDIDATE OR PROSPECTIVE CANDIDATE OF AN ELECTED STATE OFFICE EXCEPT IF THEY ARE SOLELY LOBBYING ON MUNICIPAL LEVEL.
BILL ALSO STATES THAT NO PERSON/ORG ENGAGED IN POLITICAL CONSULTING FOR STATE PUBLIC OFFICIAL, CANDIDATE, OR PROSPECTION FOR ELECTED STATE OFFICE SHALL BY EMPLOYED BY OR AFFILIATED WITH OR UNDER COMMON OWNERSHIP WITH ANY PERSON/ORG INVOLVED IN LOBBYING EXCEPT ON MUNICIPAL LEVEL.
CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM
Fully public funded matching funds
THIS IS A BILL THAT I ORIGINALLY INTRODUCED IN THE CITY COUNCIL
MORE THAN 7 1⁄2 YEARS AGO IN JULY 2008.
I AM CURRENTLY REWORKING THE ORIGINAL LANGUAGE OF THE BILL TO FIT IT WITHIN CURRENT STATE LAW AND TO ADDRESS THE CONSTRAINTS SET FORTH IN THE SUPREME COURT’S CITIZENS UNITED CASE.
THE BOTTOM LINE IS THAT AFTER ALMOST 30 YEARS AFTER THE CREATION OF A PARTIAL PUBLIC FUNDING SYSTEM FOR LOCAL CAMPAIGNS IN NEW YORK CITY, THE SYSTEM HAS SHOWN ITSELF TO BE INEFFECTIVE.
IN OTHER STATES THAT HAVE HAD FULLY PUBLIC FUNDED SYSTEMS, REFERRED TO AS CLEAN MONEY, CLEAN ELECTION LAWS, THEY SAW MORE PEOPLE, INCLUDING WOMEN AND MINORITIES, RUNNING FOR OFFICE AND REDUCTION IN THE EXPLOSIVE GROWTH OF CAMPAIGN SPENDING
o Close LLC Loophole
AS MANY OF MY COLLEAGUES HAVE SAID, THE LLC LOOPHOLE HAS ALLOWED SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS TO EXERT INFLUENCE BY DONATING MILLIONS OF DOLLARS TO POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS OFTEN AVOIDING DISCLOSURE REQUIREMENTS AND BYPASSING CONTRIBUTION LIMITS THAT WOULD OTHERWISE APPLY EXCEPT FOR THE LOOPHOLE.
TERM LIMITS (Senate Bill S943)
o 3 consecutive 4-year terms
BILL INTRODUCED ON FEBRUARY 15, 2011 – ONE OF THE FIRST BILLS I INTRODUCED WHEN I CAME TO THE SENATE.
NO ASSEMBLY SAME AS
EXTEND LEGISLATIVE TERM TO 4-YEARS (Senate Bill S894)
BILL INTRODUCED ON FEBRUARY 15, 2011 – THIS WAS INTRODUCED ALONG WITH THE TERM LIMITS BILLS AND WAS AGAIN ONE OF MY FIRST BILLS WHEN I CAME TO THE SENATE
ASSEMBLY BILL CARRIED BY AM ED BRAUNSTEIN – A8577
REFORM JCOPE AND LEGISLATIVE ETHICS COMMISSION (Senate Bill S892)
o JCOPE size reduced from 14 to 5 members o Non-politicalappointmentprocess
BILL INTRODUCED ON OCTOBER 3, 2012 NO ASSEMBLY SAME AS
IN ORDER TO MAKE MEANINGFUL AND EFFECTIVE CHANGE TO THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE STATE'S ETHICS LAWS, IT IS NECESSARY TO HAVE ONLY ONE STATE ETHICS COMMISSION THAT IS COMPRISED OF 5 MEMBERS WHO ARE APPOINTED THROUGH AN APOLITICAL PROCESS AND WHOSE OWN ETHICS ARE UNQUESTIONED.
FORFEIT PENSION UPON FELONY CONVICTION FOR ELECTED OFFICIALS o Applies only to portion of pension accrued subsequent to criminal
(TO BE INTRODUCED WITHIN NEXT FEW WEEKS)
WHILE THERE ARE OTHER BILLS WHICH SEEK TO REVOKE PENSIONS FOR CRIMINAL CONVICTIONS, MY BILL WILL PROPERLY LIMIT THOSE REVOCATIONS TO ELECTED OFFICIALS AND SHALL ONLY SEEK TO CLAW BACK PENSION DOLLARS EARNED FROM THE TIME THAT THE ELECTED OFFICIAL ENGAGED IN CRIMINAL CONDUCT
REQUIRE BILLS WITH CO-SPONSORSHIP BY MAJORITY OF HOUSE MEMBERS TO AUTOMATICALLY PROCEED TO FLOOR VOTE
ASSEMBLY BILL CARRIED BY AM JAMES TEDISCO – A8658
TODAY I JOINED ASSEMBLY MEMBER TEDISCO IN INTRODUCING THIS BILL THAT CREATES A THRESHOLD OF CO-SPONSORSHIP OF A BILL
ONCE THE CO-SPONSORSHIP OF A BILL REACHES 32 MEMBERS IN THE SENATE OR 76 IN THE ASSEMBLY THAT BILL MUST BE TAKEN TO THE FLOOR OF ITS RESPECTIVE HOUSE FOR A VOTE
FOR TOO LONG THE LEADERSHIP ON THE SENATE AND ASSEMBLY HAVE BEEN ABLE TO DICTATE VOTES ON BILLS WHICH HAVE CLEARLY GARNERED MORE THAN SUFFICIENT SUPPORT OF THE MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE AND YET ARE NEVER ALLOWED TO THE FLOOR FOR A VOTE
THIS HAS ALLOWED ELECTED OFFICIALS TO PAY LIP SERVICE TO IMPORTANT LEGISLATION EITHER BY ALLOWING LEADERSHIP TO STYMIE THE WILL OF THEIR MEMBERS OR BY ALLOWING MEMBERS TO SIGN ON TO LEGISLATION THEY REALLY DO NOT WANT TO SEE MOVE YET ARE ABLE TO TAKE CREDIT FOR BEING A CO-SPONSOR
NON-PARTISAN SPECIAL ELECTIONS (Senate Bill S5797)
o End to Individual Party Nominating process and instead require
independent nominating petitions BILL INTRODUCED ON JUNE 3, 2015
NO ASSEMBLY SAME AS
IN A GENERAL ELECTION, CANDIDATES OF ANY PARTY MUST PETITION IN ORDER TO GAIN THE NOMINATION. THE PETITIONING SERVES AS A FORM OF PUBLIC REVIEW. HOWEVER, UNDER CURRENT LAW, CANDIDATES FOR A SPECIAL ELECTION ARE NOMINATED IN ACCORDANCE WITH INDIVIDUAL PARTY NOMINATION RULES, RATHER THAN BY PETITION. THIS SYSTEM LEAVES POLITICAL PARTIES IN A POSITION OF ENORMOUS INFLUENCE, AS THEY HAVE THE ABILITY TO CHOOSE THE CANDIDATES OUTSIDE OF ANY PUBLIC EVALUATION.
THIS BILL AIMS TO REMOVE THE PARTISAN SPECIAL ELECTIONS PROCESS, BY ESTABLISHING A COMPLETELY NONPARTISAN SYSTEM BY WHICH ALL
CANDIDATES MUST BE NOMINATED BY INDEPENDENT NOMINATING PETITION. BY REQUIRING THAT ALL CANDIDATES OBTAIN A PLACE ON THE BALLOT BY INDEPENDENT PETITION, THE PLAYING FIELD IS LEVELED, AND THE PEOPLE ARE FREE TO CHOOSE THEIR CANDIDATES.