NEW YORK - Gov. Andrew Cuomo touted the newly agreed-upon ethics reforms in Albany as the toughest in the nation.
The main provision of the bill requires legislators, many of whom are attorneys, to disclose the source of any outside income. If they earn more than $5,000 a year, they have to say who their client is and what services they provided.
The reforms also include a loss of state pension for a lawmaker accused of a crime while in office.
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Assemblyman Todd Kaminsky (D – Long Beach) is a former federal prosecutor who helped draft the bill. He says it also seeks to prevent lawmakers from abusing the $172 per day allowance they get for hotel and meal accommodations while in Albany.
“There have been scandals where people claim the money, but weren't even in Albany. So now there will be an electronic verification system to require people to swipe in to prove they're in Albany,” said Kaminsky. “It sounds very childish, but unfortunately when people act like children, that's how they have to be treated.”
Critics of the ethics reform package say it doesn't go far enough. They would like a strict cap on any money lawmakers earn outside of their elected job.
“If they're going to be an adjunct professor at Nassau Community College for $4,000 a year, that doesn't matter to me. But if they're going to make 3, 4, 5 or $600,000 a year working for some law firm, that does bother me,” said Blair Horner, of New York Public Interest Research Group.