Senate Republicans have made their opening salvo in negotiations over the state’s ethics laws, introducing a bill Thursday that would expand financial disclosure requirements to include lawmakers and officials’ household members.
The legislation would change the state’s rules for who does and doesn’t have to detail their finances in annual disclosure forms. As it stands, lawmakers and state officials have to detail information about themselves, their children and their spouses, but the GOP’s bill would expand it to include household members.
The bill would apply to all state lawmakers and officials who have to file a financial disclosure. The practical impact? It would force Gov. Andrew Cuomo to include longtime partner Sandra Lee on his annual disclosure forms, which would require her to detail her income and finances.
“Our goal is to pass a comprehensive ethics package that restores the public trust, and we’re working very hard to accomplish that,” Senate Republican spokesman Scott Reif said in an email.
In all, the GOP introduced three new ethics bills, including measures that would require businesses to better detail their political contributions as they seek state contracts and require state agency employees to file more documentation for travel reimbursements.
Along with expanding the financial disclosures to include household members, the Senate Republicans’ legislation would also require members of various committees and commissions to disclosure their income. Cuomo often creates panels of public- and private-sector figures to tackle various issues, such as the Moreland Commission and a panel that recommended Medicaid reforms.
The bills — first spotted by Capital New York — were introduced after Cuomo included measures in his state budget proposal to require lawmakers to list most of their legal clients. Legislators are allowed to hold outside jobs, with some holding gigs as attorneys with private law firms.
UPDATE: “We’re happy to review any ethics proposal with the bill’s sponsor, whoever that may be,” Cuomo spokeswoman Melissa DeRosa said in a statement.
When it comes to the expanded disclosure bill, there is no individual sponsor. It was introduced by the GOP-controller Rules Committee, a tactic that doesn’t require an individual lawmaker to list their name on it.
Cuomo’s proposal came after the January arrest of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, who was indicted last week on charges related to an alleged kickback scheme. He maintains his innocence.
Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County, has argued the executive branch should face greater disclosure requirements, as well.
(Journal News file photo)