Power is a magnet for corruption. To be a legislator or someone in a similarly important position means you have the ability to influence countless aspects of social and economic life – and if you pull the right strings, some people can make a fortune. Some people use power to get more money, and others use money to secure more power – either way, the usual result is a defrauding of the American public, as state monies and resources are used to grease wheels and secure backdoor agreements.
For Governor Cuomo enough is enough. Albany, the state capital, has long been a hot spot for government corruption. New York has one of the biggest economies in the United States – in fact, one of the biggest economies in the world – and there are vast troves of money to be had for someone able to secure the right legislation or policy for their firm, industry or fund. The stories of corruption are endless, and politicians on both sides of the aisle have been caught participating in all sorts of corrupt, illegal behavior.
From million dollar kickbacks to bribes in exchange for mayoral tickets, more and more NY politicians are being exposed for unethical behavior and are being put behind bars. Governor Cuomo wants to make things easier for the prosecutors tasked with the difficult job of finding corrupt lawmakers, and he intends to do this by changing and expanding the current laws on corruption.
For one, attempts at bribery have to be reported – even if you don’t accept the bribe, failure to inform the proper authorities can lead to prosecution. For those caught in the act, a new class of felonies has been proposed, preventing officials with a history of corruption or graft from holding elected office or enjoying other privileges.
A very interesting addition proposed by Governor Cuomo is an easing in what prosecutors have to prove in order to put a politicians behind bars. Previously, the evidence had to be extremely explicit, but now prosecutors just have to demonstrate that a politician was willing to be influenced by bribery, a much easier claim to prove.
If Governor Cuomo’s legislation passes, these measures will probably not completely eradicate corruption in the State Capitol or in the rest of New York State – but they will likely make it a lot more difficult for politicians and lobbyists to betray the public interest.