Assemblyman John Ceretto, R-C-I-Lewiston, is pushing for major ethics reforms in the wake of Sheldon Silver being forced out of the speaker position.
Ceretto said Silver, who was arrested on felony charges of bribery and extortion, was the major roadblock to meaningful ethics reform. With Silver on his way out, the assemblyman said the best opportunity to reform state government is now staring state legislators in the face. Ceretto said he wants to use this opportunity to pass the Public Officer's Accountability Act, a comprehensive anti-corruption package.
"Today is a new day in state government, Ceretto said. "Sheldon Silver is being forced out of his position as speaker, and this news represents the greatest opportunity to truly reform Albany in a long time.
"Silver blocked numerous ethics reforms and, now that he is out of the way, we must elect a speaker who will allow these reforms to be passed. The Public Officer's Accountability Act is the most comprehensive reform package, and passing it should be the Assembly's first priority to combat corruption."
The Public Officer's Accountability Act contains the following provisions:
•Forfeiture of campaign contributions by an elected official convicted of a felony offense related to his or her official duties.
•Implementation eight-year term limits for legislative leaders and committee chairs.
•Require itemized appropriations for any discretionary request by the governor or Legislature. Require the governor or a legislator to submit a form to the attorney general indicating no conflict of interest. Prohibit any appropriation when a conflict of interest exists. Include appropriations to organizations that employ or compensate the governor, a legislator, or any family member or person sharing a home with the governor or a legislator.
•Establish a new, five-member commission on official conduct that assumes the duties of the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, the state inspector general and the former Temporary State Commission of Investigation.
•Failure to report corruption would count as a new crime.
Ceretto also supports legislation to remove pensions from public officials convicted of corruption.