The take-away from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s proposal to toughen the state’s public-official corruption law, announced yesterday, is that things must be really bad in the Albany halls of power these days.
If the legislation outlined this week eventually passes the Legislature as the governor envisions, it would expand the definition of bribery to make the “intent” to influence an official or, conversely, an official’s willingness to be influenced, a felony, provided the value of the bribe was in excess of $5,000. Under
present law, prosecutors must prove that the parties had come to an agreement.
The legislation would also address the misuse of public money, including theft and even the personal use of an official vehicle. It would make it a misdemeanor for an official to fail to report bribery and it would impose a lifetime ban from government for those convicted under the statute.
The announcement comes on the heels of a scandal revealed last week involving a Democratic state senator from the Bronx trying to buy his way onto the Republican New York City mayoral ticket. Mr. Cuomo, in remarks Tuesday, said that such a revelation would be a “terrible thing to waste.” If the goal is cleaning up government, we agree.