Governor-Elect Spitzer is wasting no time. Change is in the air. “… Mr. Spitzer is taking the unusual step of voluntarily adhering to tougher rules for himself and his administration, and hoping the idea catches on.”
Spitzer said while he could not force the Legislature to go along with his ideas, he will adhere to these limits “to set a tone, to send a message and to set an example.”
His plan includes:
– stop accepting campaign contributions greater than $10,000
– loopholes in the state’s campaign finance laws won’t be used
– he nor his aides would hold fund-raisers in Albany during the legislative session
– no gifts of more than nominal value (current allowed value is up to $75)
– “neither he nor his lieutenant governor, David A. Paterson, would accept fees for speeches or appear in taxpayer-financed commercials”
– no contributions taken from members of his administration whom he can hire and fire
The changes would be seismic for Albany, where Gov. George E. Pataki has sometimes proposed reforms but has not agreed to abide by them unilaterally. Mr. Spitzer said he hoped the Legislature would follow his lead by passing far-reaching laws that would eventually apply to all state officials and candidates.
His announcement put pressure on Senator Joseph L. Bruno, who was re-elected here Thursday as Republican majority leader of the State Senate, one of the three positions that in effect run state government. Mr. Bruno did not sound as if he has any plans to adopt Mr. Spitzer’s ban on fund-raisers in Albany during the legislative session, saying it was “nonsense” to argue that they fostered a bad perception.
“If they want to support people here, they ought to be able to do it,” Mr. Bruno said. “And for anyone that thinks that anybody that makes a contribution buys anything other than indicating their positive support — well, then, they’re just wrong.”
Spitzer feel differently:
Mr. Spitzer said he hoped to send a message by deciding not to attend fund-raisers in Albany during the session, which typically runs from January through June. “There is an unfortunate reality that there are many fund-raisers here in Albany on nights when the Legislature is in session when lobbyists and others congregate, can contribute to legislators, and then show up the next morning to ask them to consider A, B, or C,” he said. “And so we are simply saying, we will not participate in that.”
Well, at least the governor’s office will have ethics reform on their agenda. Will the legislature follow suit? We will be paying attention to see what they will do.