Cuomo surprised New York State in a speech following corruption charges against two New York Law makers, in short: bribery is bad.
With a state capital that thrives off of dysfunction and corruption, it’s not hard to believe that New York is a little behind the rest of the country when it comes to integrity.
Albany itself is a dirty word. Mention politics to anyone in New York and images of thieves, bums, and glad-handers are quickly conjured up; making the new “Public Trust Act” seem like something that should have been in place years ago.
The proposed law creates three new state level crimes: Scheming to corrupt the government, bribing a public official, and failure to public corruption. The crimes range in severity from felony to misdemeanor.
Currently New York ranks 37th for state Corruption Risk Report with an overall “D” rating from Stateintegrity.org. Cuomo mentions “striking while the iron is hot” but the iron has been sizzling for the better part of two decades.
There has been documented corruption in this state since Boss Tweed. Shouldn’t have corrupting the government and bribing a public official be felonies to begin with? Was anyone really against this issue before this proposal? I am more surprised that these laws haven’t already been put into place.
Failing to report a bribery now will land government officials with a misdemeanor. This means that openly allowing bribery to occur in public office, and the open container I got this summer has the same consequence.
Our state has gone through the gauntlet when it comes to corruption. For Fourteen years, Majority Leader Joe Bruno very publicly funneled millions of dollars into his own district. Eliot Spitzer not only was caught up in a prostitute scandal, but was found to be using state troopers to run surveillance and dig up dirt on political opponents.
Even our ethics board is filled with people who have bribed judges, misused campaign funds, and misused political positions to finance lobby causes. At this point in our political history are a few half assed laws going to stop the massive amount of corruption that proliferates in Albany.
Just like an open container ticket isn’t going to stop me from drinking on the beach this summer, a misdemeanor not going to stop politicians from giving and receiving bribes. New York has a long way to go before becoming a fair and open political system.
But on the bright side, 37th isn’t that far from the top 20.
Quick History of Bribery In New York
1626 – New York was bought for $24 worth of beads
1789 – Tammany Hall founded
1840’s – Immigrants paid to vote for canidates.
1850’s – Boss Tweed basically controls New York City
1950’s – District Leader Carmine Desapio has ties with Italian mob
1999 – Joe Bruno begins to funnel millions to his district.
2007 – Spitzer’s Prostitution scandal
2007 – Troopergate
2008 – Pedro Espada funnels money through “non profit” health clinics
2010 – Paladino uses company money to supplement his campaign funds
2012 –Malcom A Smith and Eric Stevenson are found bribing their way to higher offices
2013 – Public Trust Act Proposed