Albany Cements Its Status As The Pay-To-Play Capital

Yesterday, a longtime friend of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who was one of his top aides, was sentenced to six years in prison on corruption charges. For years, Joe Percoco served as Andrew Cuomo’s right-hand man and oversaw the day-to-day operations of the governor’s office. His arrest, trial and conviction painted a troubling picture of how that office was put up for sale.
 
Percoco’s sentence was the exclamation point on a trial that exposed the dirty underbelly of state government. During yesterday’s proceedings, Judge Valerie Caproni said, “I hope that this sentence will be heard in Albany, where corruption has eaten at the workings of government.”
 
I couldn’t agree more. For years, the Assembly Majority has either rejected critical reforms or, worse, actively blocked efforts to fight corruption. Gov. Cuomo, who claims he was unaware of the bribes exchanging hands around him, has made no real effort to change the status quo. His Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) – the panel that is supposed to be a corruption watchdog - has amounted to nothing more than a façade incapable of making even a dent in the Albany grift machine.
 
ASSEMBLY MINORITY PROPOSALS WILL STRIKE AT HEART OF CORRUPTION
 
The public’s trust in their representatives is gone. At present, a company closely tied to the governor, Crystal Run Healthcare, is under federal investigation after receiving more than $25 million in grants. They have donated $400,000 to Gov. Cuomo to help fill his $31 million campaign war chest.
 
Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and SUNY Polytechnic Institute head Alain Kaloyeros are among some of the other top officials who have recently been found guilty. Investigations and trials have become the norm, not the exception, and the public is getting numb.
 
Assembly Republicans have fought to reform Albany for years. Our Public Officers Accountability Act of 2017 (A.5864) would alleviate the egregious concentration of power that created Albany’s toxic culture, yet the Democrats have inexplicably refused to bring it to the floor for consideration. We will continue to push for:

  • term limits for legislative leaders and committee chairs;
  • creating an independent ethics panel to replace the JCOPE;
  • prohibiting conflicts of interest in state appropriations; and
  • greater, independent oversight and review of New York’s economic development programs and discretionary spending.   

Albany is the pay-to-play capital of America. There is no end in sight, and despite the governor’s original campaign claims he would reform Albany, corruption only expanded on his watch. Assembly Democratic leadership should be ashamed of themselves for continuing to stand in the way of common-sense reforms to protect taxpayer money.
 
What do you think?  I want to hear from you. Send me your feedback, suggestions and ideas regarding this or any other issue facing New York State. You can always contact my district office at (315) 781-2030, email me at kolbb@nyassembly.gov, find me by searching for Assemblyman Brian Kolb on Facebook, and follow me on Twitter.

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