As promised, Gov. David Paterson this evening vetoed the ethics legislation passed by lawmakers last month.
Here’s his statement:
“Earlier today, I vetoed Uni-Bill A.9544/S.6457. This veto was a necessary step towards restoring transparency and accountability to State government.
“While there are positive aspects of this legislation, it does not go far enough in addressing the corrosive effects of outside influence and internal decay that have caused the people of New York to lose faith and trust in their government. The only way to bring fairness and openness to government is to fundamentally reform the way Albany operates. We must bring fundamental change to the culture of Planet Albany, and finally put the interests of the people of New York ahead of lobbyists and special interests.
“There are those who argue that I should sign this bill — that this legislation would improve the status quo, and it’s the most we can accomplish at this time. To them, I say respectfully — that is not acceptable. In principle, I am not opposed to taking limited and positive steps towards improving the ethical climate of New York government, whenever such opportunities present themselves. In practice, however, I realize that if I sign this bill into law, the leaders of the Legislature will celebrate their achievement and the Legislature will not address the broken ethics system again this year. On the campaign trail, politics would trump reality, and victory would be declared without being earned. As Governor, I cannot allow this to happen.
“We have an historic opportunity to reform Albany, and if we fail to seize it, history will not forgive us — and neither will the people who sent us here to lead. I would strongly urge those who have dedicated their careers to improving the ethics system in Albany to join me in pushing the Legislature further. To the members of the Legislature who are interested in achieving fundamental change, I ask you to join me to pass a bipartisan Reform Albany bill that establishes independent oversight of public officials; ends pay-to-play; reduces the influence of money on politics; and brings transparency and accountability to ethics oversight.
“Today’s veto is only the beginning. It’s the first step towards a new era of accountability, where the people of New York are represented in good faith and good conscience, and every New Yorker is proud of their government. I invite the members of the Legislature to join me in working on a five-way agreement that will finally bring real and fundamental reform to Albany.”