The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

Lawmakers Required to Disclose Outside Income Over $1,000 Under Ethics Plan

By Jeff Mays | March 18, 2015 3:52pm
 Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie hugged after announcing a series of ethics reforms.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie hugged after announcing a series of ethics reforms.
View Full Caption
NYS Governor's Office

NEW YORK CITY — State legislators could soon be required to disclose the sources of all their outside income exceeding $1,000 and forfeit their pensions if convicted of corruption, the governor announced Wednesday.

Under the plan, which the Democratic Assembly endorsed, a new website would also show visitors the reimbursements lawmakers receive, all in the name of increasing transparency and accountability. 

"We believe this is the most stringent ethical policy in the United States of America," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during an Albany press conference.

The plan is part of the governor's proposed budget and still needs to clear the Republican controlled Senate.

The Republicans were expected to meet later Wednesday.

The reform measures come after longtime assembly speaker Sheldon Silver left that post when he was indicted on federal corruption charges.

Silver had used his power as speaker to secure bribes and kickbacks from outside real estate and law firms, money that he marked as legitimate income, prosecutors said.

Silver pleaded not guilty to the charges but it placed a brighter spotlight on already existing ethical concerns in Albany.

Under the governor's ethics proposal, state elected officials must disclose all outside income exceeding $1,000 and what they did to get it.

Lawmakers who are part of a firm, whether in real estate or law, must disclose payments over $5,000. They must also disclose which services were rendered and whether those services were related to governmental action.

Certain "sensitive activities" such as child custody, divorces, criminal proceedings and residential home closings would be exempt.

Lawmakers would also be barred from taking any kind of compensation, direct or indirect, from companies affected by bills before the legislature.

In addition, elected officials would lose their pensions if they're convicted of corruption.

While the other reforms simply need to pass the legislature, the pension changes must come with a constitutional amendment and voter approval in 2017. 

The governor also proposed reforming the system for legislators' per diem allowances by giving them a swipe card that could prove they were in Albany on the days they claimed.

Also, under the plan, public officials would no longer be able to use campaign contributions for personal use such as paying for clothing, rent, mortgages or tuition payments.

Campaign finance rules would also be strengthened to limit campaign contributions and close a loophole that allowed corporations to contribute massive amounts of money.

Outside groups that help fund favorable issue-based media coverage for candidates would be subject to stricter disclosure rules under the plan.

"Our goal is to make transparency the strongest influence over those who commit themselves to public service," said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie,

The new agreed upon rules don't go as far as those suggested by others, including a proposal from Attorney General Eric Schneiderman who suggested all outside income be banned.

But Cuomo called the agreement another step in the right direction.

"We have been very aggressive in the area of ethical reforms but we still need to do more. Why? Because there are ongoing issues and there is still the sense that it's too common and too frequent," Cuomo said.