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Long IslandPoliticsSpin Cycle

Scandals prompt call for 'recall' elections

In the wake of recent political corruption scandals, some Republican state legislators on Wednesday proposed giving voters to the power to recall elected officials.

“Recall elections demonstrate the will of the people and provide for a swift, decisive remedy when corruption rears its ugly head,” Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb (R-Canandaigua) said.

Under his proposal, 20 percent of voters in a state legislator’s last election would have to sign a petition to force a recall vote. For statewide officials, 1 percent of voters in at least five counties would have to sign the petition, a Kolb aide said, though the threshold could be negotiated.

The legislation would appear to face long odds. The Legislature would have to twice approve a bill to amend the state constitution, then voters would have to approve it in a statewide referendum. But Kolb says “any serious discussion about ridding Albany of corruption” should include recall.

 All of the “reform” talk has followed two recent indictments of state legislators on corruption charges. In one, prosecutors alleged that state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-Queens) and five others participated in a bribery scheme to rig a spot for Smith in the Republican primary for New York City mayor.

For those keeping score, some of the competing proposals now include using taxpayer money to publicly fund campaigns to limit the influence of big donors, holding “open” primaries to end party-boss control of ballot access, eliminating party “housekeeping” accounts that have few restrictions on use and giving either the attorney general or an attorney appointed by the governor to investigate election-law violations.

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