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Politics and Government

Assembly Majority Leader Morelle says real ethics reform is coming

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Karen DeWitt
/
WRVO News

State Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle says real ethics reform is coming to Albany.

Morelle, a Rochester-area Democrat wouldn’t say whether he thinks former Speaker Sheldon Silver is guilty of a crime. But Morelle said that Silver should have been forced to disclose the source of his outside income.

“We’re not going to pass a budget, we’re not going to end this session, without having changed the ethics rules that relate to what people do in terms of outside income -- whether it’s the level of outside income they have or, more importantly, making sure that people can’t use their public office in a way to benefit themselves privately,” Morelle said.

Many attorneys who are also lawmakers do not disclose all of the sources of their income, citing attorney-client privilege.

Morelle says he doesn’t regret offering support for Silver in the hours after Silver was arrested on corruption charges last month. Morelle initially told reporters that Democrats would support Silver, but he says there was more happening behind closed doors.

“What happened then, which is probably part of the untold story, is members had a chance to look at the criminal complaint,” Morelle said. “And I think that was frankly a little bit of a wakeup call to us. And what became clear to me over the next 48 hours was that there was actually much more anxiety about the speaker’s ability to lead the conference and lead the House.”

Morelle said he’s confident that the new speaker, Carl Heastie, has a clean record and will represent Democrats well.