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OpinionColumnistsWilliam F. B. O'Reilly

O'Reilly: More Moreland madness in Albany

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo appoints the Moreland Commission

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo appoints the Moreland Commission to investigate public corruption. (July 2, 2013) Credit: Darren McGee

What a joke.

The Moreland Commission has spoken, and guess what it says? Money buys influence in Albany.

As if it didn't know that. The commission's co-chair, Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, took almost $300,000 in donations from Weitz & Luxenberg and its associates, the law firm for which Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is "of counsel."

One of the hottest unresolved public corruption issues in Albany is Silver's use of taxpayer funds to cover up sexual abuse by political allies. Guess how many investigatory bodies chose to fully delve into Silver's actions? None. J-COPE, the other panel comprised of political appointments, danced around it last year; Moreland is completely ignoring it.

But Moreland has no problem investigating individual legislators without cause, which it has no authority to do. Its moves look suspiciously like a power grab by the executive branch at the expense of the legislative, which would dangerously alter Albany's balance of influence.

And then there's the key recommendation of the Moreland report -- publicly financed campaigns. That is the same initiative pushed last year by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who created the commission. The idea has been mothballed for a decade, until it was dusted off by a conglomerate of union and left-wing interests known as the Working Families Party a few years back.

"The only way to make sure politicians put working people first is to kick the big-money crowd out of political campaigns," reads the WFP website.

That's the real rib tickler. Unions spend far more than ordinary Americans -- more than $4 billion from 2006 to 2011 -- to influence elections and policy making, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

The WFP wants more control of the legislature. Its ground campaigns and organizational strength would be exempt from campaign finance laws. Its coalition dropped almost $1 million last year to promote taxpayer financed campaigns.

Albany can be a real mess at times, but never underestimate its ability to make things worse in the name of political reform.

William F. B. O'Reilly is a columnist and a Republican political consultant.