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AG Schneiderman brings his call for ethics reform around the state

Alex Crichton
AG Schneiderman speaking in downtown Rochester on Monday.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says in a legislative session in which the leaders of the state Assembly and Senate are both indicted on corruption charges, the need for ethics reform in Albany is shockingly clear.

Speaking in Rochester -- one of several stops -- Schneiderman outlined his "End New York Corruption Now Act," which he says has three main goals: end the pernicious effect of outside money in politics and government; ensure every act of corruption is met with a swift, serious response; and encourage more honorable people to pursue public service.

"There are only two paths forward: more investigations, more indictments and the further erosion of public confidence in our government; or comprehensive transformational reform that will prevent corruption in the first place," Schneiderman says.

Among the many provisions in the bill: end outside employment for lawmakers, ban per diem limits and dramatically tighten campaign contribution limits, restrict contributions by lobbyists, create a public financing system, and provide for a substantial salary increase for legislators while extending their terms from two years to four years.

"Really provide for a clear system all the way around," he says. "In return for that I think it's important to recognize that we want the best people can have in the legislature, and that to a certain extent -- you get what you pay for."

Schneiderman says the bill represents bold reforms that get to the root of corruption, equips law enforcement with the tools needed to fight it and professionalizes the legislature.

Groups like the League of Women Voters, Common Cause New York and the Interfaith Alliance are all supporting the legislation.