Legislative leaders today are announcing a deal to bolster the state’s ethics and campaign-finance laws by requiring lawmakers to better disclose outside income, impose stiffer penalties on campaign-finance violations and establish new oversight committees.
The deal would seek to improve the state’s porous ethics and campaign-finance laws in the wake of a series of scandals at the state Capitol in recent years.
But the agreement is likely to put lawmakers at odds with Gov. David Paterson, who made ethics reform a centerpiece of his State of the State address last week. Paterson wants term limits, lower campaign-finance contribution limits and one independent board to oversee lobbying laws and the Legislature.
Paterson indicated last week he could veto the legislation if it doesn’t include an independent panel, which he proposes would be appointed by a separate board, not by legislative leaders.
The legislative proposal would create three new boards and an investigative panel that would be appointed by legislative leaders, though no branch of government would have a majority of the appointees.
The plan calls for separate boards to oversee the executive and legislative branches of government and lobbying activities. It would also create an enforcement unit to crack down on violations.
The proposal doesn’t touch Paterson’s call for lowered campaign contributions or term limits, but it would give the Board of Elections greater powers to enforce campaign-finance laws.
Lawmakers also, for the first time, would require the Legislature to disclose ranges of income from outside business dealings. Currently, they do not have to disclose publicly the range of income they receive from private businesses.