When you give a legislator a campaign contribution, where do you expect the money will go? To buy a pool cover? To pay for her car? A family trip to Europe, perhaps?
Our jointly released 2006 report, Strengthening Ethics in New York documents some personal use scandals in recent years.
In Newsday yesterday, Lauren Webber reported on the recently introduced Democratic Assembly campaign-finance legislation package. This package acknowledges the problem of personal use of campaign contributions, but does not actually restrict their use. Instead, it gives the state Board of Elections the power to decide regulations regarding spending of campaign funds. Color us skeptical.
Meanwhile, Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport) has introduced a stricter bill that specifies which expenses from the campaign coffers are acceptable and which are not:
Flanagan's bill - the first on this issue from a member of the Republican majority - may signal some willingness on the part of his reluctant Senate colleagues to approve campaign-finance reforms.
The spending issue was spotlighted earlier this year when Pete McGowan, the once-powerful former Islip supervisor, pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds for such personal expenses as a trip to Ireland and more than $5,000 in spa treatments and facials:
"Whether or not there will be serious three-way negotiations on an ethics package is now the biggest question," said Blair Horner, director of the New York Public Interest Research Group. A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno said the Senate is "looking at" Flanagan's bill.
We are hoping that the two houses and the Governor can reach agreement on an ethics package that strongly regulates personal use before the session ends Thursday.
Categories: General, Campaign Finance, Government Ethics