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Schneiderman presses ethics measures

ALBANY - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said he will try to force his own anti-corruption measures into law because the State Legislature and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo are making a "glaring omission" in refusing to propose new ethics measures in the last days of the legislative session.

The Democratic attorney general's proposals in his bills to the Legislature include restrictions on campaign contributions by lobbyists. He also would prohibit lawmakers from having outside clients, such as in law firms, but raise their public paychecks to compensate.

In addition, Schneiderman proposes a constitutional amendment to double legislators' terms to four years "to create at least some time for members of the Assembly and Senate to focus on governing first, and politics second."

Schneiderman also proposes public financing of campaigns to limit the influence of big donors. But that Democratic measure has been rejected repeatedly by the Senate's Republican majority as a poor use of scarce public funds.

A poll by the Siena College Research Institute released Tuesday found 90 percent of voters felt corruption in state government is a serious problem; 62 percent said corruption among their own legislators was a serious issue.

Despite the introduction of three ethics packages over the last five years, each of which was heralded at the time as groundbreaking, 57 percent voters felt corruption is about as bad as it was four years ago, the poll found.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) and Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport) told reporters last week they expect no more ethics measures in the last 12 days of the legislative session, which is scheduled to end June 17.


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