Ray Walter's Legislative Column: Standing Up to NYC

Ray Walter’s Legislative Column
Standing Up to NYC

The only way that real reform is coming to our great state is if we stand up together against the corruption of New York City political bosses. Anyone who chooses to look will find a laundry list of transgressions perpetrated by unscrupulous legislators under the leadership of Assembly Speaker Silver. Now, more than ever, we must stand together as a region, regardless of party affiliation, and fight against the autocratic control of the Speaker as Assemblyman Mickey Kearns (D - Buffalo) did. Without this, any call for honesty, integrity and reform cannot be taken seriously.

Both the Assembly and Senate have been tainted by the high number of legislators being investigated in recent years. Vito Lopez, Malcolm Smith, John Sampson, Carl Krueger, Shirley Huntley, Eric Stevenson, William Boyland and Nelson Castro, are all either currently under indictment, or have been convicted of crimes that include bribery and conspiracy − with the exception of Vito Lopez, whose perverted actions of groping women have been deemed “non-criminal.”

And now, as the federal investigators behind many of the initial arrests are gearing up for another round of indictments, Gov. Cuomo and the Assembly Speaker have colluded to eliminate the Moreland Commission. The governor originally called this group "the best minds in law enforcement and public policy from across New York," making them responsible for investigating corruption in state politics, but it appears the Majority has worked very hard to dismantle it in a key election year. The Speaker can’t afford more arrests and indictments, and was well aware of the Moreland Commission’s ability to expose his supporters’ wrongdoings.

My colleagues and I have submitted multiple proposals to combat the culture of corruption that permeates our government. We have called for state constitutional amendments to allow for recall elections and pension forfeiture for convicted officials, the institution of eight-year term limits for legislative leaders and committee chairs, and the creation of new crimes and increased penalties for those who act against the public trust or fail to report corruption. We want to limit the use of campaign funds for only campaign activities, prohibit the use of funds for criminal defenses, and ensure that the campaign funds of public officials convicted of a felony are returned to donors or turned over to charity. Finally, our conference is looking to create a real, independent commission to investigate public corruption.

But, of course, the Assembly Speaker has blocked any real reform legislation from reaching the floor of the Assembly for a vote. It’s time for the New York State Legislature to vote for real reform and ensure that corrupt, selfish minds are no longer in control of our state government.

If you have questions or comments on anti-corruption legislation or any other state issues, please do not hesitate to e-mail me at walterr@assembly.state.ny.us, call me at 716-634-1895 or visit my office at 5555 Main Street in Williamsville.


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