ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday unveiled a new proposal to close a campaign finance loophole linked to Albany’s culture of corruption.
The governor naming the legislation one of his top priorities as lawmakers entered the final days of their session.
Passing a comprehensive plan to address the rise in heroin and opioid abuse is another goal, the Democratic leader said. Lawmakers expect to adjourn next month.
“We are having a crisis with heroin in this state, from one end to the other,” Cuomo told reporters outside his state Capitol office. “It’s as destructive a drug crisis as I believe we have ever seen.”
Other items on the governor’s agenda: approving a ballot question to allow judges to strip the pensions of corruption politicians and a measure making it easier for women to get screened for breast cancer.
The campaign finance and ethics reforms, however, are likely to run into the greatest opposition in the Legislature.
The so-called LLC loophole allows limited liability companies to skirt existing donation limits and pump huge sums into political races without much disclosure. Cuomo’s proposal includes several options for closing the loophole, including some that would apply only to non-legislative races and one that would only apply to gubernatorial races.
If lawmakers continue to balk at closing the loophole when it comes to their own re-election bids, Cuomo said he’d be willing to have the gubernatorial loophole closed first. “I’m willing to go first, to go it alone,” he said.
The state Senate has so far blocked efforts to broadly close the loophole. On Tuesday, Senate Republican Leader John Flanagan dismissed Cuomo’s new approach as a “red herring” that ignores other problems in state finance laws. Senate Democrats insisted the loophole must be closed for legislative races as well.
“Especially given the central role the loophole has played in ethics scandals in both houses,” said Sen. Daniel Squadron, D-Brooklyn.
The debate over legislative ethics comes after the previous Senate leader and Assembly speaker were both sentenced to federal prison this month following unrelated corruption convictions.
Former New York state Senate Leader Dean Skelos was sentenced to five years in prison earlier this month after being convicted of using his position to pressure companies to provide hundreds of thousands of dollars for his son.
Former state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver who was sentenced to 12 years in prison in his bribery case this month.
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