New York is corruption’s proving ground. In December, 2013, three months before Cuomo shut down the Moreland Commission, it issued a preliminary, ninety-eight-page report describing “an epidemic of public corruption.” For instance: “One out of every eleven legislators to leave office since 1999 has done so under the cloud of ethical or criminal violations.” But those are only the people who got caught violating the scant, weak, and poorly enforced anticorruption laws that govern their conduct. “The real scandal,” according to the report, “is what remains legal.”–Jill Lepore

What ails Albany: lack of transparency, lack of accountability and lack of principle — joined with overabundance of greed, cronyism and self-dealing. –U.S. Attorney, Preet Bharara

The cornerstone of new ethics reform should be term limits on all state elected officials.— Chemung County Sherriff, Chris Moss

It is easy to predict what won’t cure corruption:

  • Arrests
  • Term Limits

The above measures are sure to be ineffective because the incentive for corruption would remain–arrests might make officials more careful, term limits would periodically change the players, but corruption would remain the rule. What might work is reform that prevents officials from accepting payments or favors for any reason. This should include:

  • Full time pay with other sources of income prohibited.
  • Public financing of election campaigns.

In an article which appeared in the Elmira Star-Gazette on February 3, 2015, Chemung County Sherriff, Chris Moss, writes:

If we enact term limits, we effectively do away with the current broken power structure and the eventual corruption that inevitably arises from it.

Moss is wrong–term limits are not a solution to the problem of corruption. Term limits would change the players, but do nothing to prevent corrupt persons from being elected or newly elected persons from being corrupted.

Moss suggests that term limits would reduce “incumbent’s focus from working on their reelection to focusing on voting their beliefs and principles.” More likely it would cause the soon to be unemployed to focus on short-term gain and the revolving door to private employment when their term ends.

Moss concludes that term limits would attract non-career politicians who would “bring a much needed common sense approach to the Legislature.” Again, I disagree–what is common sense to some is folly to those who are wiser.

Would term limits be good for NY-23? I think not. We might not have Tom Reed to kick around any longer, but we might have someone even less responsible. Even if we had someone more responsible, it wouldn’t last. Short timers would have no reason to consider the long term public interest; they would need to get rich quick, and to arrange for a golden parachute when their term ends.

When a legislator’s service is inadequate, the direct and most effective solution is to vote that person out.

© William Hungerford – February 2015



About whungerford

* Contributor at where we discuss the politics, economics, and events of the New New York 23rd Congressional District (Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, (Eastern) Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben,Tioga, Tompkins, and Yates Counties) Please visit and comment on whatever strikes your fancy.
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4 Responses to Corruption

  1. josephurban says:

    There is no reason why elected officials should be allowed any other outside source of income. Pay them well. But deny them the ability to “moonlight” taking money for speeches, etc. A man cannot serve two masters. Either serve the people or go into private practice.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Deb Meeker says:

    I agree. I believe public financing for elections would be a good ground leveling device. Whether in local, state, or federal elections, public financing of candidates could stop or at least minimize two things: the need for candidates to constantly be fundraising ( and therefore not having time to do their jobs), and, it would be more likely that more candidates would run for better reasons in the first place – such as to actually do public service. Not having the funding to run has probably prevented some qualified and service minded citizens to even try.


  3. BOB McGILL says:…psychology…/the-psychology-politics

    Sociopathy, a term that’s generally interchangeable with psychopathy, is not a form of insanity. It’s a spectrum of personality types classically centering on narcissistic self-importance, a willingness to manipulate others and the charm to do it effectively, and a perpetual habit of deflecting blame when their self-interested actions cause harm to others. This all stems from a basic lack of conscience, the defining trait of the sociopath.

    The typical profile of a sociopath certainly suggests they’d flourish in politics. “Robert Hare, perhaps the leading expert on the disorder and the person who developed the most commonly used test for diagnosing psychopathy, has noted that psychopaths generally have a heightened need for power and prestige,” James Silver reported in the Atlantic, “exactly the type of urges that make politics an attractive calling.” Silver also notes that other typical sociopath traits, including fearlessness and strong competitive drives, make sociopaths likely to not only enter politics, but succeed in it.


  4. BOB McGILL says:

    these people serve only one master, MONEY ! Come on, most of these guys make millions every year and do little or nothing to earn it. Take that away and nobody would run for office.


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