The Senate’s traveling ethics-reform show hit New York City today with a public hearing on four proposed bills that would strengthen ethics laws. There will be a public hearing in Buffalo tomorrow and Albany on Tuesday.
The bills would:
— Lower the amount of money lobbyists and firs that receive state contracts can contribute to political campaigns and committees. Require lobbyists to disclose business relationships with public officials or their family members as well as campaign contributions.
— Strengthen the state election law that prohibits using campaign funds for personal use.
— Create a nine-member commission to oversee both the executive and legislative branches of government.
— Require legislators to disclose their business relationships and random audits of financial disclosure statements.
The first two bills are sponsored by Sen. Liz Krueger, D-Manhattan, and the others are sponsored by Sen. Daniel Squadron, D-Brooklyn. “We can’t fix ethics oversight unless we fix the structure of our oversight bodies,” Squadron said in a statement. Gov. David Paterson has called for shutting down the state Public Integrity Commission and replacing it with an independent Government Ethics Commission.
The governor’s recommendation followed a scathing report from the state inspector general on State Inspector General Joseph Fisch told lawmakers last week that the now-former executive director of the Public Integrity Commission leaked confidential information about an investigation into now-former Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s administration.