With the legislature not in session this week, we weren’t expecting to have much to blog about. However, as you have probably already heard, New York has once again found itself embroiled in yet another political corruption scandal. On Tuesday, New York State Senator Malcolm Smith was arrested, along with several other lawmakers, by federal law enforcement in connection to a scheme to bribe Republican officials into letting Smith run as a GOP candidate for mayor of New York City. The scandal, which included plans to use state money in the scheme, highlights the “pay-to-play” culture that permeates New York politics. On Wednesday, the League joined with NYPIRG, Citizen Action, and the Sierra Club to hold a press conference outside of the Senate chambers calling upon Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature to help end political corruption and restore New Yorker’s faith in their government via passing a comprehensive campaign finance reform package, which would include contribution limits, strong enforcement, an end to "pay-to-play," and a publicly financed small donor matching system. The press conference was well-attended by the press and Barbara really drove home the need to address the “pay –to-play” culture in Albany and the point that comprehensive campaign finance reform legislation would make a huge stride towards that end.
And it seems this is the week for corruption, as just today, another five people, including Assemblyman Eric Stevenson, were arrested on bribery charges. Assemblymember Nelson Castro has also resigned as part of a plea bargain for being a "cooperating witness". He had been indicted in a sealed indictment in 2009 as part of a voter fraud case by the Bronx DA and then became the witness for the US attorney.
The Barbs Talk Women’s Equality
This week the state league also hosted a conference call for league members to provide info and updates and answer questions about the Women’s Equality Agenda & Coalition. Over 20 league members from across the state called in to listen to Barbara Bartoletti and Pay-Equity Issue Co-Specialist, Barbara Thomas discuss the Women’s Equality Agenda, the League’s role in the coalition, and what local leagues can do and are doing in the regional women’s equality coalitions around the state. There was a lot of excitement on the call, demonstrating the energy, commitment, and experience local leagues are bringing to their regional coalitions. Those on the call reported that they have already been scheduling legislative meetings to show their support for the Women’s Equality Agenda (along with the other items in the legislative packet this session – Campaign Finance Reform and Early Voting). In addition, the Women’s Equality Agenda regional press conferences have kicked off this week and, as the callers reported, will be well-attended by the League. These calls may become a regular happening, so please join us for the next one!