Leslie Danks Burke: “Albany corruption is why we don’t get our fair share”
Despite an unending series of corruption scandals involving both parties, the State Senate is wrapping up the legislative session today without comprehensive action to close ethics loopholes.
Leslie Danks Burke, candidate in NY’s 58th district, called on legislators to do right by Southern Tier and Finger Lakes taxpayers by finally passing long overdue ethics reforms.
Danks Burke noted that corruption is a core reason that upstate communities in the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes have been shortchanged for decades.
“Albany corruption is why we don’t get our fair share, plain and simple,” Danks Burke said. “We see legislators who work for their campaign contributors, legislators who work for their outside clients, and legislators who work to line their own pockets. They’re not working for us, their constituents, and the result is money that was already promised to our region is going to New York City or Long Island instead.”
With speculation that in the closing hours of session, Albany may pass a band-aid proposal to merely rescind pensions from politicians who have already been convicted, Danks Burke said that Albany must do much more to remedy the corrupt redirection of her region’s resources.
“Stripping pensions from politicians who steal the taxpayers’ money is a no-brainer that should have been done years ago. Advertising this as progress shows us just how bad things are,” she said. “The Southern Tier and Finger Lakes will no longer be satisfied with half a loaf. Close every loophole now.’
Several recent scandals have involved lawmakers’ “outside income” where legislators earn money from clients with business before the legislature.
Danks Burke’s opponent, Senator Tom O’Mara, is a partner in a law and lobbying firm whose clients have interests that routinely appear before the Environmental Conservation Committee which O’Mara chairs.
Danks Burke has taken a pledge to personally adhere to higher standards than New York law requires. “I don’t need to wait for Albany to tell me what’s ethical to take action, and I challenge my opponent to join me,” Danks Burke said.
Beyond pension forfeiture, Danks Burke prioritizes:
- Eliminating outside income for legislators
- Closing the “LLC Loophole”
- Closing the “County Committee Loophole”
- Ending double dipping by legislators who collect a public pension and taxpayer funded salary
- Locking the “Revolving Door” with a 10 year block on lobbying by former legislators
“This isn’t complicated,” Danks Burke said. “Stop stalling and start getting what the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes were promised. Let’s get to work.”
Bio: Leslie Danks Burke is the daughter of farmers; an attorney, wife, mother, and a regional advocate who has lived in the Finger Lakes for twelve years. Danks Burke sits on the Agriculture and Infrastructure subcommittees of the Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council. She serves on the boards of multiple organizations, including her regional Community College foundation, her local library foundation, and Planned Parenthood of the Southern Finger Lakes. Danks Burke is a proud hockey mom and a Girl Scout Leader, and her greatest joy is spending time outdoors with her husband, Cody, and their 6 and 11-year-old daughters, Sophia and Anna.
Danks Burke is absolutely correct. I have never understood how we can allow any representative to have second jobs or secondary sources of income. That is an obvious conflict of interest. “A man cannot serve two masters”
Perhaps we need to raise their salaries. Which is fine. But they should have only one source of income. From the people they are supposed to represent.
I am uneasy with pension forfeiture–it solves nothing and sets a bad precedent. Danks Burke’s other suggestions seem insignificant. It probably isn’t practical to disallow outside income as long as legislatures are considered part-timers. Changing to a full time legislature would require a change to the NYS Constitution which, even if feasible, could not be guaranteed to be an improvement.