Governor Andrew Cuomo; AP Photo
By Jon Campbell
ALBANY, NY-- Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday made the case for bulking up New York's laws against public corruption and strengthening its electoral system, pointing to a pair of recent scandals in the Legislature as an "opportunity" for change.
In a radio interview, Cuomo, the state's former attorney general, said he believes federal corruption laws are stronger than on the state level, making it difficult for district attorneys and state officials to ferret out political wrongdoing.
The recent arrests of Sen. Malcolm Smith, D-Queens, and Assemblyman Eric Stevenson, D-Bronx, could spark a change in the state's law, Cuomo said. They were arrested last week and charged with bribery in separate cases.
"Can we do a better job in fighting corruption in government? I think we can and I think there's an opportunity here," Cuomo said on "The Capitol Pressroom," a public radio program.
Cuomo, a Democrat, said he'd like to see an overhaul of the state's electoral system, including a lowering of limits on campaign contributions and an end to the state's "Wilson Pakula" law, which allows political parties to offer its ballot line to someone who isn't registered with their party.
Smith was charged last week by federal prosecutors with trying to bribe his way onto the Republican ballot line in the New York City mayor's race. Stevenson was charged two days later, with prosecutors alleging he took bribes from developers opening adult day care centers in the Bronx.
Cuomo said he will discuss putting together a broad package of anti-corruption measures with lawmakers that would reform "the whole electoral process." Cuomo stressed the importance of taking action "in the moment"as the high-profile corruption cases grab headlines.
"I've been waiting for this moment for many many years, and I think we're going to have this moment now," Cuomo said.