NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The embarrassing corruption scandals that took down a state senator and two assemblymen may finally lead to ethics changes.
Sources told CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer on Monday the Legislature is expected to make it easier for local lawmen to root out public corruption.
A steady stream of constituents made their way to Assemblyman Nelson Castro’s Bronx office Monday as the corrupt politician’s staff made plans to close the office for good.
“I just came to say hello because I know he’s leaving today,” one person said.
Castro was forced to resign as part of a deal with prosecutors to save his skin. He was caught by Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson in an alleged scheme to illegally register voters and wore a wire in a probe of his colleagues that led to charges against Assemblyman Eric Stevenson.
It is one of the ironies of last week’s corruption charges, that Johnson had to turn Castro over to the feds to develop the corruption charges against Stevenson because federal public corruption laws are stronger.
“I called upon the U.S. Attorney,” Johnson said.
But now sources have told Kramer that if any good is to come out of the drumbeat of corruption charges last week, which also ensnared state Sen. Malcolm Smith and City Councilman Dan Halloran, it will be the passage of legislation that gives local district attorneys and the state attorney general more power to nab crooked officials themselves.
“Never waste a crisis, as they say,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday, the day Bronx County Republican Committee chairman Joseph Savino resigned his seat. Savino was among those arrested last week in the Sen. Smith scandal. Vincent Tabone, the Queens County GOP chairman, had already resigned last week.
Cuomo, who was elected on a platform of cleaning up what he called the “Albany swamp,” also promised ethics changes on the heels of the most embarrassing and pervasive series of corruption cases the state has faced in a long time.
“Our electoral system doesn’t work well. It hasn’t worked well in many, many decades,” Cuomo said, adding as examples, “the dominance of the county chairs and the political parties and how hard it is to get on the ballot.”
As 1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon reported, speaking on Syracuse public radio station WCNY’s “The Capitol Pressroom” show Monday, Cuomo said when there is public outrage, reform laws get passed.
“These are crises, but they’re also opportunities,” Cuomo said, “and they’re opportunities to bring reform to the state, and put together a comprehensive agenda, and get the legislature to act.”
He expressed optimism about the possibility of long-term reform.
“There’s no doubt that we can clean up our electoral process,” he said.
The governor is promising to introduce his own ethics reform package before the legislative session ends in June. He’s talking about the possibility of campaign finance reform, election reform, even possible changes to state lobbying laws.
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