Poll: New Yorkers mistrust elected leaders

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ALBANY -- New Yorkers are highly mistrustful of their elected leaders, according to a poll released Monday.

More than 80 percent of those surveyed by Siena College say they expect more arrests of state legislators in the near future. And, perhaps underscoring the depth of the suspicion, about one-third say they believe their own legislator could be arrested.

The poll also found a slight dip in Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's approval ratings.

The poll was taken just after two high-profile federal indictments earlier this month. In one, prosecutors charged state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-Jamaica) and five others in a bribery scheme to rig a spot for Smith in the Republican primary for New York City mayor. The second alleged that Assemb. Eric Stevenson (D-Bronx) accepted bribes to write legislation to protect certain owners of adult day-care businesses.

New Yorkers' level of mistrust is "staggering," said Siena College pollster Steve Greenberg.

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"Clearly, the recent arrests have eroded confidence in the legislature," Greenberg said. "In fact, voters are closely divided, with 50 percent saying most legislators are 'honest and law-abiding' and 47 percent saying most 'cannot be trusted.' "

In response, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) attributed the low ratings to a "few rotten apples" and called legislative service a "noble profession."

"I'm fairly confident that, by and large, most members of the legislature, on both sides of the aisle, are honest, hardworking members," Silver said. "In any organization, you're going to find a few rotten apples."

Senate co-leader Dean Skelos [R-Rockville Centre] didn't immediately comment.

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