Jack Martins, the GOP candidate for Nassau County executive, on Thursday pressed for passage of a November ballot proposition to amend the state constitution to allow judges to revoke pensions of elected officials convicted of corruption.
“There must be zero tolerance when it comes to public corruption,” Martins said at a news conference in Franklin Square.
While serving in the State Senate, Martins helped craft the legislation, signed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in 2011, that provides judges with discretion during sentencing to strip the pensions of officials convicted of corruption.
A change to the state constitution is needed to apply the law to officials who joined the pension system before Nov. 13, 2011.
The change applies to elected officials, gubernatorial appointees, municipal managers, department heads, chief fiscal officers and policymakers. It allows judges to award pension benefits to innocent spouses, children and other dependents after reviewing their financial needs.
Martins’ opponent, Nassau County Legis. Laura Curran (D-Baldwin), said that while she supports the ballot referendum, it does little to prevent corruption before it occurs.
“It’s a shame that the public’s trust in career politicians is so low that they need to wave the flag for the most obvious of reforms,” Curran said.
The ballot measure was prompted by the convictions of two dozen state lawmakers over the past decade, primarily on corruption charges, including former Assembly Leader Sheldon Silver and ex-Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre).
Silver and Skelos were found guilty of federal corruption charges but later had their convictions vacated. Prosecutors plan to retry the former leaders. But if voters approve the referendum, Skelos and Silver could see their pensions revoked if they are convicted again.
Also Thursday, Curran complained that several of her campaign signs, including one at the corner of Old Country Road and Manetto Hill Road in Plainview, were vandalized with stickers saying “DI’BLASIO’S BITCH,” an apparent reference to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“It is disgusting that campaign workers would sink so low as to use this sort of vile and hateful language to lie about my candidacy,” Curran said.
Martins condemned the vandalism, which he called “vulgar and offensive.”