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Cuomo threatens to launch ethics probe

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. Credit: AP

ALBANY -- As more lawmakers' names surfaced in a federal corruption probe, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Wednesday he might launch an ethics probe if legislators don't enact tougher anti-corruption measures.

The Democrat said lawmakers must act before they are scheduled to adjourn June 20. He said all elected officials must "reaffirm" public confidence in state government.

"I am not willing to allow the public trust to be shaken in state government," the governor said. "I'm not willing to let the session conclude without a response."

Cuomo said he could initiate a "Moreland Commission" that would have authority to probe corruption in state government.

But Cuomo's anti-corruption package doesn't directly address many of the bribery and embezzlement cases revealed in the recent spate of indictments, a number of lawmakers have said.

Proposals offered by Cuomo and legislators 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 their use, and giving either the attorney general or an attorney appointed by the governor power to investigate election-law violations.

On Monday, federal prosecutors charged Sen. John Sampson (D-Brooklyn) of embezzling $440,000 to finance a run for Brooklyn district attorney and recruiting a mole in the U.S. attorney's office to try to thwart a federal probe.

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