Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,I,C-Batavia) today announced an ethics and lobbying reform agreement between Governor Eliot Spitzer and legislators, touting it as a major accomplishment toward correcting a system that has been fraught with corruption and lacked public confidence.
“Our conference has long championed an aggressive agenda to correct the ills of state government and enact measures that will bring about real change to benefit the people of New York State,” said Hawley. “We need to restore the public’s trust in Albany and leave people with a sense of confidence that their representatives’ top priority is to do what is in their constituents’ best interest, not what is best for special interest.”
The agreement sets higher ethical standards for public officials, significantly strengthens penalties for violations, establishes an independent public integrity panel with far-reaching powers, and reorganizes the Legislative Ethics Committee.
While pleased with the ethics reform package, Hawley said that a provision prohibiting legislators who commit a felony to collect a state pension should have been included. “When a public servant so egregiously violates public trust, in no way should he or she be allowed to collect a pension funded by taxpayers,” said Hawley.
Furthermore, Hawley advocates for major campaign finance reform that he says was ignored in this agreement. He supports a cap on the amount of money spent on any State Assembly or Senate campaign and that unused campaign dollars ought to be returned to donors using a pro-rated formula. “I will continue to push for these reforms,” said Hawley who applies his proposals to his own campaigns. “To spend $300,000 on one race for a two-year seat is ludicrous, we’ve lost our way.”
“Today’s agreement shows that our conference is at the forefront of a move away from the status-quo that has hindered progress in New York, but we also realize that more must be done to truly reform state government – I am ready to take on that challenge,” Hawley concluded.