Two More Opeds On How To Reform Albany

The Brennan Center’s Lawrence Norden and Citizen Union’s Dick Dadey offer their views on how to clean up Albany in the NY Daily News.

Dick Dadey focuses on reforms and looks to how ” much of the government’s case against Silver was built on his use of slush funds he was able to direct as speaker — all while concealing how much taxpayer money was being doled out in this manner, and taking personal payments in exchange. The Legislature should establish an electronic database of all such funds, detailing the funds’ sponsors, the purposes for the expenditures, the recipients and updated disbursement information. And it should vet all discretionary funds for conflicts of interest.”

Lawrence Norden reminds readers that “here is where the lessons from another dismal time in New York’s history can help. In 1910, Albany was rocked by allegations that Senate Majority Leader Jotham P. Allds had accepted a bribe to kill a bill. A subsequent investigation found pervasive corruption throughout the statehouse, including evidence that the former Assembly speaker was also bribed.

Reformers didn’t respond to the scandal by calling for piecemeal changes to a broken system. Instead, they urged legislators to blow the system up by mandating “direct primaries” in elections — allowing New Yorkers to vote for someone not chosen by corrupt party bosses.

The equivalent today? Campaign finance reform that includes lower campaign contribution limits and a small donor matching system. This would encourage candidates to raise money from their constituents, rather than a few wealthy donors.”

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