Paterson Vetoes Ethics Reform


As Chris Smith points out in his profile of David Paterson in this week’s New York, the past three months have been Governor Paterson’s strongest in office. One of the cornerstones of this newly solid performance has been his effort to institute real and effective ethics reform in Albany. But he’s up against a legislature that’s deeply entrenched in (and appreciative of) its own murky ways. So when he was presented with a bill that would require more explicit financial disclosure and an ethics-review panel (to be appointed by the legislators themselves), he vetoed it, saying the proposal didn’t go far enough. “The only way to bring fairness and openness to government is to fundamentally reform the way Albany operates,” he explained. “We must bring fundamental change to the culture of Planet Albany, and finally put the interests of the people of New York ahead of lobbyists and special interests.”

The bill may not have to go back to the drawing board, though. The Times reports that the Assembly has enough votes to override Paterson’s veto. If Senate Republicans can swallow fears that the ethics panel will be overstocked with Democrats (who happen to control the Senate at the moment), there should theoretically be enough votes there to override Paterson, too. But the governor is holding out hope that the growing discontent of New York State voters after last year’s Senate stalemate debacle will scare legislators into considering even deeper reform. “We have an historic opportunity to reform Albany, and if we fail to seize it, history will not forgive us,” he warned. “And neither will the people who sent us here to lead.”

Paterson Vetoes Ethics Bill, Saying It Isn’t Real Reform [NYT]
Related: David’s Goliath [NYM]