ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A local woman who investigated political corruption in New York State said corruption won’t end until voters put the pressure on their lawmakers.
“Since year 2000, we’ve had about 35 or 36 legislators go to jail,” Legislative Dir. Of the League of Women Voters Barbara Bartoletti said.
Bartoletti, a former advisor to the Moreland Commission, said the corrupted culture of New York politics hasn’t changed in years. On Monday, a federal jury found ex-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver guilty of money laundering, extortion and honest services fraud.
Republican assembly member Steve McLaughlin said the verdict highlights the bigger problem.
“The fact that there is that much power concentrated in the hands of three people is a real problem, so we need to open up that process to a lot more people being involved in budget negotiations,” he said.
After receiving the guilty verdict, Silver was immediately removed from the assembly, and his name plate was stripped from his office at the Legislative Office Building of the Capitol.
“I think we all in elected office really need to pay close attention to this decision,” democratic assembly member John McDonald said. “Preet Bharara is changing government whether government wants to change or not.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo said the following in a statement:
“Today, justice was served. Corruption was discovered, investigated, and prosecuted, and the jury has spoken. With the allegations proven, it is time for the legislature to take seriously the need for reform.”
But Bartoletti said reform won’t come unless voters hold their lawmaker accountable.
“Say to their local officials, ‘Let’s close the LLC loophole, and if you don’t, I’ll elect someone who will,’ and then maybe you will see this change,” she said.
Bartoletti said Silver will likely appeal the guilty verdict.
In the meantime, the 65th district will not have representation for the legislative year unless Gov. Cuomo holds a special election.