By Sabina Mollot
Last Monday at the Capitol, Senate Democrats including Manhattan East Side reps Brad Hoylman and Daniel Squadron announced that they were demanding ethics reforms including the closure of the LL Loophole. Another demand was to prohibit lawmakers from using campaign funds to cover attorney fees for investigations into allegedly criminal activity.
Squadron even announced, via press release, that he’d used a Motion for Committee Consideration to force a vote on the bill at Monday’s Senate Elections Committee.
However, by the day’s end, the effort went nowhere, or more specifically the reforms went into legislative limbo after getting “referred to committee,” by the Republican-controlled Senate, according to Hoylman.
Hoylman, who spoke with T&V later, explained that this is a typical stalling tactic, as opposed to refusing to vote on something outright.
“We’ll have to see if it’s a sincere effort to move it or stall it,” said Hoylman. Hoylman suspected the latter, adding, “You could argue they referred it to a black hole for future consideration. The real test will be if it comes to the floor for a vote.”
The legislative session ends in June, and Senate Democrats are hoping (though not at all expecting) that ethics reforms will be passed by then after not being included in the budget passed last month.
While in Albany, the recent sentencing of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver for corruption has been the talk of the town, the chatter hasn’t led to any change in Hoylman’s own chamber.
“They have 32 votes and that comes with absolute impunity,” he said of his Republican colleagues. As for the Silver sentencing, “For some it sparked a need for reform and transparency but for Republicans it brought the need to hunker down and hide from the critics. Batten down the hatches and hope that the controversy of the day will blow over.”
He noted that a combined $3.6 million in campaign contributions for Silver and fellow convicted Albany kingpin Dean Skelos went to cover their legal fees. Hoylman is the sponsor of the bill that would keep campaign cash from becoming a legal slush fund.
Hoylman, like other Democrats, is hoping the recent election of State Senator Todd Kaminsky in the seat formerly occupied by Skelos will help flip the Senate in November. He said he doesn’t believe the controversy currently swirling around New York City’s Democratic mayor will hurt this effort, whether or not the investigations into his fundraising and other issues are resolved by then.
“I think the facts are in Democrats’ favor,” said Hoylman. “I think there’s widespread agreement among Democrats for campaign finance reform.”