The unveiling of charges in the latest bribery scandal on Thursday once again had Albany lawmakers defending their integrity and promising to bring about new ethics reforms. NY1's Erin Billups filed the following report.
On March 10, 2008, news broke that Governor Eliot Spitzer was involved in a prostitution scandal. Exactly three years later, the Capitol was once again shrouded in a cloud of shame, as State Senator Carl Kruger and State Assemblyman William Boyland Jr. were added to the list of Albany lawmakers under indictment.
“It stains the entire Legislature when something like this happens,” said Republican Senator Martin Golden of Brooklyn.
Kruger and Boyland surrendered to federal prosecutors Thursday on bribery charges. Their colleagues on both sides of the aisle were quick to denounce their alleged behavior.
“The actions that are alleged are just deplorable and I hope that the criminal justice system will deal with them to the fullest extent of the law,” said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat.
“It’s disgusting and it needs to stop,” said Senate Deputy Majority Leader Tom Libous, a Republican.
State Republican Chairman Ed Cox went as far as to say Democratic lawmakers need to deal with this issue of corruption.
When asked whether it was a Democratic problem and not a Republican problem, Cox responded, “This is definitely a democratic problem.”
In response, Democratic lawmakers pointed to some disgraced Republicans, including former state Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno, saying unethical behavior crosses party lines.
“As in any field, there are a few bad apples,” said Silver.
The scandal prompted Governor Andrew Cuomo to again urge the Legislature to pass comprehensive ethics reform.
Silver said the Assembly is “virtually in agreement” with Cuomo. They are still working on a three-way agreement with the Senate.
“We obviously are going to look at how we can implement a very, very tough, disciplined ethics law moving forward,” said Libous.
Several lawmakers argued even if changes are made to the law, it may not make a difference.
“People who want to do ethical wrong doing are going to do it anyway. It doesn’t matter how many ethical rules you put into place,” said Democratic Senator Ruth Hassell Thompson of the Bronx.
Lawmakers said ultimately it is up to voters and their local community leaders to chose worthy candidates to serve them, or risk seeing more lawmakers behind bars.