Earlier this year the environmental community made campaign finance reform a priority of the current legislative session – which ends this week – for a simple reason: like David vs. Goliath, on issue after issue the greater public interest finds itself up against a wall of corporate campaign cash.
Look no further than two pieces of common-sense legislation in the Senate which, despite having more cosponsors than is necessary for passage, remain stalled in the Environmental Conservation Committee of all places:
· Child Safe Products Act (36 cosponsors, including 6 Republicans and 3 IDC members)
· Closure of the Hazardous Waste Loophole (34 cosponsors, including all IDC members and 3 Republicans)
Following the revelations of gross misconduct by former Assemblymember Vito Lopez (dubbed "gropez" by the media) reform seemed ripe for the picking. And with all the shenanigans, investigations, indictments, embarrassments, etc., one could have foolishly assumed reforming Albany's ways would be a priority.
To the Assembly’s credit, they have moved a significant reform plan. Governor Cuomo has introduced his own plan, and also endorsed the Assembly’s. But as is the case on so many issues in the Senate, politicians say one thing to their constituents and behave entirely differently once inside the Capitol.
Our $79,500/year part-time legislators are leaving Albany for the year without yet having passed any meaningful reform.
Their campaign accounts will live to fight the public interest another day.
Due to their inaction, Governor Cuomo is threatening the Legislature with a Moreland Commission – a body which has the power to investigate deep into the Legislature's operations and practices. We will have to wait to see whether the Governor follows through with this threat and what change, if any, such a commission will bring. In the meantime it appears when it comes to cleaning up Albany, the only thing New Yorkers got OUT of the Legislature was Vito.