N.Y. AG left out of Cuomo's public corruption legislation

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Apr 11, 2013

ALBANY, N.Y. (Legal Newsline) -- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo this week proposed new legislation that would create a new class of public corruption crimes and boost state prosecutors' powers -- all except for Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

In a news release Tuesday, Cuomo called the state's current laws "obsolete" and "far less effective" than federal statutes.

The governor's Public Trust Act would establish a new class of public corruption crimes and expand the current definitions of public corruption offenses to enable prosecutors to hold accountable those who violate public trust.

The bill also would impose tougher jail sentences on individuals that misuse public funds and permanently bar those convicted of public corruption offenses from holding any elected or civil office, lobbying, contracting, receiving state funding or doing business with the state, directly or through an organization.

"Preventing public corruption is essential to ensuring that government works and can effectively keep the public's trust," Cuomo said. "The Public Trust Act recognizes that crimes of public corruption should be treated more seriously than other white-collar crimes because when they break the law, they also break the public trust that the people have placed in government.

"When I was elected, I made a promise to New Yorkers to bring integrity back to state government and to restore the trust of the people. We have made too much progress in rebuilding this government to turn back. This legislation will continue our work to restore public trust by giving every district attorney in our state the tools they need to root out and punish all forms of public corruption at every level of government."

However, Cuomo has not followed through on a campaign promise to grant the Attorney General's Office the authority to prosecute campaign finance and member abuse violations, according to City & State.

Still, Schneiderman told the newspaper that the governor's bill is a "step forward" in fixing New York's public corruption laws.

"The time has come to end the parade of scandals that has have given voters the sense that the system is rigged," the attorney general said in a statement.

Under Cuomo's proposed legislation, the new class of public corruption crimes would include bribing a public servant, corrupting the government, and failing to report a bribe or a bribe attempt.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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