A handful of state legislators have proposed a constitutional amendment to allow voters to hold recall elections of public officials, calling it a “tool to clean up Albany” after a string of corruption convictions.
“This is a way to give the people a choice,” Sen. Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore), one of the supporters, said at a news conference Monday at the State Capitol. “It would make New York more “small d democratic.”
The push comes after the convictions and before the sentencing of two of the formerly most powerful men in state politics, ex-Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and ex-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, on bribery and extortion charges.
“Confidence in government and in those elected to govern is at an all-time low,” said Assemb. Luis Sepulveda (D-Bronx), one of the primary authors of the bill. “This legislation is a needed tool to clean up Albany and to restore integrity when officials have breached the public trust, and it will create a powerful deterrent for others who might do the same.”
New York currently doesn’t allow recall elections — unlike California, where then-Gov. Gray Davis was recalled in 2003, or Wisconsin, where Gov. Scott Walker beat a recall effort in 2012. In all, 20 states have recall provisions, backers said.
Supelveda’s bill, also sponsored by Sen. Tony Avella (D-Whitestone), says the “permissible reasons” for launching a recall include physical or mental incapacity, malfeasance, misappropriation of public property or funds, and finding of a violation by the state ethics commission.
To become a constitutional amendment, the legislature would have to approve the bill twice, Cuomo would have to sign it, and then voters would have to approve it in a statewide referendum.