With time running out and little to show for their legislative session beyond seeing their two leaders indicted on federal corruption charges, state lawmakers are embracing the “Preet ate my homework” excuse.

Both in interviews with NY1’s Zack Fink and Capital New York’s Jimmy Vielkind, legislators are worrying that any last-minute negotiations and deal-making could be subject to a probe by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who has built a trophy room filled with the tattered careers of state politicians.

But lawmakers’ fear of doing work is another kind of indictment; it’s a sorry statement about how most work in Albany resembles quid pro quos because of a myriad of murky campaign donations, opaque legislation that’s passed at the last minute, and closed-door meetings that are held instead of public hearings.  If legislators are worried that all this could be construed as illegal, then maybe they should start changing the rules of their dysfunctional game.

Governor Cuomo yesterday got into the spirit of obfuscation by explaining why he’s loath to do little more than extend the controversial 421-a tax subsidy program for developers.

As Vielkind notes about 421-a:   “The governor told reporters after a rally that it was ‘under a microscope’ and that any potential changes would ‘benefit some political interest’ and ‘generate snarky news pieces.’ “

Since when has Cuomo been cowed by snark? And don’t the rules of the game usually mandate that some “political interest” will benefit from legislation no matter what you do?

If Cuomo and lawmakers try to tip-toe their way through the end of the legislative session, it will be a profile of cowardice with some weird pouty finger-pointing at the only public official who seems dedicated to draining Albany’s swamp. It’s time for them to stop blaming Bharara and start taking a deeper look at themselves.


Bob Hardt