|Professor Richard Briffault, a former member|
of the Moreland Commission
“The Moreland Commission grew out of a series of scandals that beset the state legislature,” said Briffault, the Joseph P. Chamberlain Professor of Legislation. “It was said more people left office from indictments than electoral defeats.”
|Professor Tim Wu, a former candidate|
for New York lieutenant governor
“To everyone’s extreme surprise, at the end of March 2014 the legislature passed a few small reform laws and the governor declared victory,” said Briffault. “He all but disbanded the commission by press release.”
Marton said New York election law is so porous that many seemingly corrupt behaviors are not technically illegal. Because the New York state legislature is “part-time,” lawmakers are eligible to seek other sources of income and have wide latitude to manage their finances in ways Marton said are prone to abuse.
|Janos Morton, former special counsel to|
the Moreland Commission
Wu said that public disgust with the system and the commission’s unceremonious end boosted his ultimately unsuccessful campaign.
“Getting involved with New York state politics, I felt I looked into the heart of darkness, far worse than I expected, and I’ve felt the chill ever since,” said Wu, the Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law.
Briffault agreed that the state of affairs is concerning.
“New York state continues to face very serious ethical and corruption challenges and there is not much reason to believe the government will reform itself,” Briffault said. “Any change will have to come from outside of Albany.”
The talk was co-sponsored by the Columbia Law Democrats and the Poliak Center at Columbia Journalism School.