Reforms may stymie fraud

Democrats in the New York state Senate are proposing nine bills aimed at curbing government corruption and improving ethical standards for state lawmakers. Senate Democrats are attempting to pick up the slack from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s controversial decision to shut down the commission he created to investigate corruption.

These are some of the proposed reforms:

Establish a public financing system for state campaigns. The state would match $6 to every $1 contributed up to $250.

Lower contribution limits and regulate how candidates spend campaign funds.

Ban the use of campaign money for criminal defense.

Require disclosure on bundled donations and cap contributions to housekeeping accounts to $25,000.

Strip pensions from any state or local official convicted of a felony related to public office. Under current law, only lawmakers elected after 2011 can have their pensions voided if convicted.

Cap donations from limited liability companies at $5,000. Currently, LLCs are treated the same as individuals and can donate up to $150,000 a year.

Require disclosure forms for the entire time an official served in office. Currently, statewide elected officials and members of the Legislature are not required to file disclosure reports if they are retiring or not re-elected.

Most of these reforms are, not surprisingly, aimed at dealing with the corrupting power of campaign contributions to lawmakers. Each of these ideas is worth considering. It is imperative the Legislature and the governor make a serious attempt at addressing corruption in Albany. We urge them to take action before the end of the legislative session.