In his 2014 State of the State Address, Gov. Andrew Cuomo highlighted the importance of reforming the states campaign finance laws in order to address the epidemic of corruption in the legislature.
“Last year I appointed a Moreland Commission to investigate public corruption. There is a disagreement about the need for more ethics reform. I understand that. The argument by some members of the legislature is that we created JCOPE and that should solve the problem. But there has been a string of bad acts, almost on a daily basis. Open up the newspaper, even today, and you see more and more stories of individual legislators who have done bad acts. And it reflects poorly on all of us, because people don’t distinguish. It’s an Assemblyman, it’s a Senator, it’s a Democrat, it’s a Republican – it’s just a politician. It’s just a politician who works in state government. That’s all they hear and that’s all they know. And it reflects on all of us. ‘I didn’t do it and it’s not my problem,’ – no, it is a problem for all of us and it goes to the essence of what we are all trying to do. Ethics reform is an acknowledgment of the problem and an acknowledgment that we need to fix the system. Ethics reform says to the people of the state: ‘yes, I saw the news articles too, and it bothers me and I’m troubled by it, and we’re going to pass ethics reform because we’re going to change the system. Because we understand your concern that there seems to be a pattern of these repeated instances of bad acts.’ That’s what ethics reform is. That’s why I was arguing for ethics reform last year, and that’s why I’m arguing for ethics reform this year. I propose new anti-bribery and corruption laws, public financing of elections, independent enforcements at the board of elections, and disclosure of outside clients with business before the state.
But I believe we must act. Why? Because when government has the public trust, government has the capacity to do good work. Some have suggested that the Moreland Commission or ethics reform suggests that I don’t believe in the legislature. It actually is the exact opposite. I do believe in the legislature. I do believe in this. I do believe in us. I do believe in New York State government. I do believe in our capacity, and I don’t want to see it limited. Government is limited by the lack of trust, and the more trust, the more capacity. This is working. We went through all of the stats on the progress of the state. We have done what we said we were going to do. We’ve turned the state around. We’re balancing budgets, we’re working together, we put the politics aside. We come into the chamber and we’re not Democrats or Republicans – we’re New Yorkers and we’re working for New York. That is working and we have accomplished great things and I want to see us do even more together. I believe that the more trust we have from the public, the more we can do. I believe it’s like fuel for a rocket. If we have the trust of the people and they’re watching us perform and they’re seeing this state move then there is nothing we can do. I don’t want to see any limit when we have so much more to do. Look at the agenda we outlined today. We have to rebuild the entire state after Sandy and Irene and Lee, with a whole new vision for resiliency and redundancy. We’re going to invest in our schools like we’ve never done before. We’re going to get the economy back; we’re reforming the tax code. So much good work, but we need the public with us and we need the public to trust us and believe in us, and that’s what ethics reform is all about.”
Read the full speech here.