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Lawmakers Respond to Paterson Ethics Reform Proposals

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7374-PattersonDavid_sidebarLater today, in his "State of the State" address, Governor Paterson will propose sweeping changes in the state's notoriously weak ethics laws. Among his proposals, a single ethics commission to regulate the executive branch, the Legislature and lobbyists.

Dan Weiller, a spokesman for our man in Albany, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, told the New York Times: “It’s not possible for us to comment on the specifics of the governor’s
proposal since we have not been briefed on it, nor have we received a
copy of the governor’s draft legislation." 

As the Times put it, Silver "favors a separate legislative ethics bureau with far less independence from lawmakers than what Mr. Paterson has proposed."

In the blog Politics on the Hudson, Silver made his feelings about the governor's plan very clear:

Silver said he has been supporting and sponsoring legislation for public financing of campaigns since 1986. “It’s
been passed by the Assembly about 10 times,” Silver said outside his
Capitol office this afternoon. “The governor said he opposed it last
year. If he had a change of mind, I welcome him. I’m still sponsoring a
public campaign finance bill… I think the governor knows we are working on a package with the
Senate that we’re ready to unveil in a day or two or three. So I think
the governor decided he was going to go first,” Silver said. He added: “The governor decided he wants to be first. That’s fine.”

Our state senator, Daniel Squadron, has taken a lead role in crafting ethics reform legislation. His original proposal called for a single commission, but he's now working with the Assembly on a plan to create three separate panels. Squadron said yesterday:

“The Assembly, Senate and governor have all expressed the need for
ethics reform. Now we’ve got to cross the finish line… Any proposal needs to have increased independence, enforcement
and disclosure.”

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