Friday, September 12, 2008

NY Assembly Investigates Ethics In The Dark

Even with the indictment and arrest of Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio, the legislative body is up to their old tricks while considering what to do about their tarnished ethical image. The take down of Seminerio is significant because the Assembly realizes that they can be infiltrated by law enforcement for their shady ways. Recently re-elected captain of the ship Sheldon Silver must have been worried about the situation, because he held a secret meeting specifically concerning ethics in the Assembly.

From The Gothamist:

After longtime Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio's arrest on bribery charges, the State Assembly apparently held a secret meeting to discuss, per the AP, "tougher rules over disclosure of outside income by lawmakers."

In the criminal complaint against Seminerio, there were also references to "Assemblyman No 1," Assemblyman No 2" and "Senator No 2"--prompting lawmakers to wonder who's who. Seminerio's $500,000+ in bribes were apparently accrued after he set up a shell company to accept payments; current rules do not require lawmakers to disclose who their clients are.

While Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver wants an overhaul of the rules, it's unclear how far he will go. As the Post reports, Silver "earns an undisclosed income from powerhouse Manhattan law firm Weitz & Luxenberg." And for reference, the Post adds the current rules allow them to "earn unlimited amounts of outside income" while their "official salaries can exceed $120,000 a year and are the third highest in the nation."

Of course no one but the women and men in the room know what went on since it was held in secret, away from New Yorkers that pay their third-highest-salaries in the nation. We also do not know how many other Assemblymembers take bribes because the state house would never investigate itself or else it would probably be nearly empty after a full reivew.

Their leader would also never go far enough to root out the corruption, because he doesn't want anyone to know what exactly he does at the law firm that pays him x (anothe unknown) amount of dollars a year on top of his legislative salary. I'm not holding my breath on any reform from Silver, other than a cheap gimmick to make people think he cares about the Seminerio fallout.