Ethics reform debated in Albany as session end looms

Lawmakers in Albany are continuing to debate ethics reforms in the wake of the high-profile corruption convictions of former Majority Leader Dean Skelos and former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

Over the past decade, nearly three dozen elected officials have been forced from their offices due to corruption accusations or convictions.

So far, lawmakers have only agreed on revoking the pensions for officials convicted of crimes, but have not been able to agree on the measure's enforcement.

Legislators are trying to decide who should be subject to pension forfeiture. Some believe it should apply only to elected officials, such as legislators and judges. Others say it should be every public employee, no matter what level of government.

Assemblyman Andrew Raia (R - Huntington) says the threat of losing their pensions will make officials think twice before committing a crime.

"It's not just them you're talking about losing the pension for, it's their families," said Raia.

State Assemblyman Fred Thiele (I - Sag Harbor) told News 12 that pension forfeiture would be "the bare minimum" lawmakers could approve. He hopes more headway is made regarding campaign finance reform and limits on outside income.

Thursday was the last scheduled day of the legislative sessions. Lawmakers are expected to return to the Capitol Friday to hash out an ethics reform deal.


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