Posted at: 09/24/2013 11:40 PM
By: Dan Levy
ALBANY - Against the backdrop of what seems like endless scandal, Governor Cuomo's anti-corruption Moreland Commission got back to work Tuesday night at the Capitol focused on campaign finance reform and outside income of state elected officials.
Once the protestors had their say outside the hearing room, it was time for commission members to hear from the public policy experts and advocacy groups about what has been described as a show-me-the-money culture in Albany that has thrust state government into a dysfunctional morass.
"There will always be politicians who take bribes," says Bill Mahoney of NYPIRG, "But the fact that we've seen such a massive number of them in a state with the highest campaign contribution limits of any state in the country that imposes contribution limits, is hardly coincidental."
Following a spate of corruption scandals earlier this year, and at a time when 32 statewide elected officials had either been arrested or brought down by scandal in a seven year period, Governor Cuomo put the Moreland Commission together, charging them with restoring public confidence in state government."
"The influence of money is so deeply embedded in our system that only deep systemic reforms can restore our democratic process and restore New Yorkers faith in our government," espoused Karen Scharff of Citizen Action.
"It has become standard practice for any special interest affected by state policy to flood Albany with piles of cash and direct the largest prizes to those in positions of power," said Brian Paul of Common Cause, "It's creating an ever-escalating and self-perpetuating money race."
Colgate University Sociology Professor Joan Mandle, says New York's political system is breeding a generation of cynicism.
"Young people, like those here today, often tell me that their peers have given up on government," Mandle says, "They roll their eyes when you talk about the political system."
If the system gets fixed, commission member David Soares says it'll likely take quite some time.
"We didn't get here overnight so it's not going to be quick until we resolve some of the issues here in the state," Soares says.
One of the changes to state law that Governor Cuomo wants to see is a requirement for lawmakers to make public their private clients and business partners. Many legislators are fighting that provision.
The Moreland Commission is to come up with a preliminary report by December 1st and a final report by the end of next year.