Skoufis pitches ethics reforms

Assemblyman James Skoufis this week announced a string of ethics reforms he supports as part of his Senate campaign, addressing problems with campaign contributions and state grants that have lingered in Albany and played a role in its litany of corruption scandals.

Those reform priorities included banning or limiting outside pay for state lawmakers; closing a loophole on campaign contributions from limited liability companies; lowering contribution limits; and creating a public “database of deals” to show which companies have gotten economic development grants.

“Earning the public’s trust takes action, not lip service,” the Woodbury Democrat said in a statement. “For far too long, a dark cloud has loomed over New York State government. As a State Senator, I will continue to push for strong reforms that protect taxpayers from political greed. Enough is enough.”

Skoufis, who’s running for the 39th Senate District seat that Bill Larkin is vacating, said he has co-sponsored bills that would require members of regional economic development councils – the panels that help channel state grants – to file financial disclosure forms, and that would create a “database of deals” and give the state comptroller greater oversight of state contract awards.

Skoufis noted that the Republican-controlled Senate has opposed all of the proposals he listed, and that his Republican opponent, Tom Basile, opposes lowering campaign contribution limits, closing the LLC loophole and restricting state lawmakers’ outside income.

Basile fired back in a statement: “Contrary to his claims, a number of the proposals he’s laid out have been bottled up in committee by Assembly Democrats while Senate Republicans passed a sweeping reform package this year that included a database of deals, limiting political contributions for those doing business with the state and appointees of the Governor, restoring Comptroller oversight over State contracts, among others. If he can’t even be honest when talking about his so-called ethics package, he’s clearly part of the problem.”

Basile said he supports term limits and legislative rule changes to make spending decisions more transparent and reduce “the power of Albany’s infamous ‘three men in a room.'”

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