By Tom Precious
ALBANY -– This is what it looks like when a branch of government, with both Democrats and Republicans, gets its institutional back up.
As Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Moreland Commission sends out subpoenas trying to get information about possible campaign finance problems with state lawmakers, several state legislators introduced a bill today requiring a new level of transparency by companies and individuals trying to win state contracts before state agencies. Those would be agencies controlled by the governor.
The bipartisan bill requires any entity engaged in a contract process with the state to disclose campaign contributions made within the prior 18 months. Even the spouse and children of the principals of a company would have to reveal political donations as part of the procurement process -– whether to win a highway construction deal or to purchase state land.
Here’s the portion of the bill memo explaining the justification for the bill:
“In our representative form of government, it is essential that individuals who are elected to statewide government have the trust, respect and confidence of the citizenry. All individuals, businesses, associations, and other persons have a right to participate fully in the political process of New York, including making and soliciting contributions to candidates for state-wide public office, but when a person or business interest makes or solicits major contributions to obtain a contract awarded by a government agency or public authority, this constitutes a violation of the public's trust in government and raises legitimate public concerns about whether the contract has been awarded on the basis of merit.
"The New York State Division of the Budget is charged with carrying out the Executive's constitutional obligations with respect to the State's multi-billion dollar budget; and every State department, board, bureau, or commission is obligated to administer State contracts, grants, programs, and funding streams in the best interest of the People of the State of New York. It has long been the public policy of this State to secure for the taxpayers the benefits of competition, to promote the public good by promoting the honesty and integrity of bidders for public contracts and the system, and to guard against favoritism, improvidence, extravagance and corruption in order to benefit the taxpayers.
"In the procurement process, our public policy grants to the State broad discretion through the offices of elected officials, taking into consideration multiple factors, to award a contract to a bidder whose proposal will be most advantageous to the State. Therefore, although the right of individuals and businesses to make campaign contributions is unequivocal, the Legislature must safeguard the integrity of State government procurement by requiring adequate disclosure of such contributions and interactions between State officials and entities that benefit from doing business with the State.”
taggedAlbany | Andrew Cuomo