Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb (R,C-Canandaigua) issued the following statement after majority members on the Assembly Committee on Governmental Operations voted against legislation that would enact the Public Officers Accountability Act, a comprehensive package of anti-corruption measures designed to bring greater transparency to Albany.
Albanys track record of corruption and its unbelievable lack of ethics reform have reduced it to a national laughingstock. The behavior of top-level state officials and their subsequent arrests, indictments and convictions have relentlessly filled newspaper columns; yet, when real, thoughtful reforms were presented, the Assembly Majority inexplicably turned their backs on the publics interests."
The legislation (A.3945, Kolb) would, among other things:
- Enact term limits for legislative leaders and committee chairs;
- Create an independent ethics panel to replace the Joint Commission on Public Ethics;
- Create a new crime of failure to report corruption;
- Require unspent contributions received by an elected official convicted of a felony related to his/her duties to be returned; and
- Require all discretionary appropriations, or member items, be itemized in the budget and include the name of the governor or member requesting the appropriation.
We cannot achieve results alone. Its time the so-called good government groups live up to their names and take a stand for New Yorkers. Todays vote, which should have sparked outrage from ethics reform advocates, drew only disappointing silence. This kind of apathy does nothing to restore the shaken trust the people of New York have for those who are supposed to represent their interests. I am terribly disappointed in the decision to vote down this common-sense legislation. Yet again, we are faced with politics before people.