This is going to be another one of those posts that upsets some people.
Legislators will think I’m being unfair. The administration will think I’m taking a shot at the Governor. And other observers will say my critique is too harsh.
To each I say: Too bad. Take a step back. I’m trying to be helpful here.
At issue is William Boyland, Jr. I just read the new indictment of the young Assemblyman. It’s truly fascinating. It turns out that the feds ran a sting operation against him. They posed as businessmen and offered sizeable campaign contributions in return for assistance with a development project. And guess what? Boyland and his staff were only too eager to help.
Is anyone surprised by this scenario?
Now comes the part that will offend the lawmakers: If the same sting operation had been run against all 211 New York state lawmakers (and who is to say that it’s not), what do you think the results would be? How many lawmakers would take the bait? Be honest now.
Do you think a quarter of the lawmakers would do it. Half? More, perhaps?
I actually believe the majority of lawmakers could easily fallen prey to this sting. No, I’m not saying that they are all evil people. What I am saying is that there is a culture in Albany that perpetuates this sort of thing. And I’m also saying that the failure of state leaders to set up an aggressive independent ethics panel only worsens the problem.
Why? Because when Andrew Cuomo was elected, ethical transgressions did not suddenly cease. In fact, violations of varying severity are occurring every single day and no one, except the Feds, seems to care.
Once again, I make the point that not having a functioning ethics panel is an outrage. And it’s the state legislature itself that should be most upset about this situation. The feds are only filling the ethical vacuum. By failing to constitute a proper investigatory panel in New York, lawmakers have invited this level of federal scrutiny.
In fact, I’ll bet the Feds are salivating. They read the papers. Boyland is just one type of problem; there are many more categories of abuse.
For example, lawmakers are also abusing the “per diem” system. Does anybody doubt that? (BTW, where is DiNapoli or Schneiderman on per diem abuse. Either one could investigate.)
Another abuse involves “bundling.” John Liu is the current poster child for this problem, but it also has been linked to City Council member (and former top Cuomo operative) Bill DiBlasio.
Do the mental exercise again. What if all 211 lawmakers were scrutinized for their per diem claims and bundling practices? How many of the lawmakers would have issues?
It’s not often you can bet on a sure thing.