Give details about work
State lawmakers should comply with requests from the state’s new anti-corruption commission, but we suspect some legislators will put up a fight.
The Commission to Investigate Public Corruption is asking all state lawmakers to provide never-before-required details about their outside work, including a list of law clients.
The commission wants lawmakers to provide data about outside employment that paid more than $20,000 in 2012, a description of what work the lawmaker performed, how the wage or salary was determined, and – critical for the many attorneys in the Legislature – a list of clients in any civil matters or publicly filed criminal matters.
Currently, part-time lawmakers, who are paid $79,500, are asked only to check off a salary range for any other employment.
Lawmakers may argue disclosure would violate attorney-client protections, but, in the interest of stemming the corruption we’ve seen in Albany lately, state legislators must provide details and be accountable.
Twenty other states require lawmakers to regularly divulge at least some of their private clients from the legislators’ business, law and consulting firms. Among those states are Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Texas and Utah.
The way business is conducted in New York state now is an invitation to corruption.
When Gov. Andrew Cuomo appointed the commission in July, he said, “We must root out corruption in politics and government … I am formally empanelling a Commission to Investigate Public Corruption … to address weaknesses in the state’s public corruption, election and campaign finance laws, generate transparency and accountability, and restore the public trust.”
To do its job, the commission needs a lot of information, including which clients have being giving their elected officials significant sums of money – and if there appears to be any conflict of interest in the arrangement.
The commission’s efforts can help prevent fraud and misconduct in the state Legislature. Lawmakers should cooperate.