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Is There an Answer to Corruption in Albany?

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By Jason Weinstein.
With Sheldon Silver charged with using his Speaker position to make off with millions in payoffs, Broome County District Attorney Gerald Mollen says it's easy to see why the opportunity for corruption exists in Albany.

"There's a tremendous amount of money that flows through and between public officials and private political contributions," said Mollen.

Mollen was a member of the Moreland Commission, which was created by Governor Cuomo to investigate corruption in Albany. In a controversial move, Cuomo ended the Commission as part of last year's budget negotiations. But it did issue a list of recommendations, including more transparency in campaign contributions.

"But at least you should be able to know who's contributing. Then you can perhaps identify links between money contributions and official actions," said Mollen.

Zephyr Teachout, a Democrat who ran against Cuomo last year in a primary, said in a New York Times editorial this week that transparency isn't enough. She called campaign contributions a gateway drug to bribes and wants public campaign financing and a ban of outside income for those in public office.

Cuomo's 2015 budget proposal addresses outside income, but doesn't call for a ban.

"His latest budget proposal recommends that there be full disclosure of outside income, that you cap outside income and that people know what they're getting when they elect an individual," said Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul.

Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo points to reforms passed by the Legislature and the quality of new members as positive signs. She reminds people it's the material unearthed by the Moreland Commission which is being used by the U-S Attorney as he prosecutes Silver. Mollen says while the Moreland Commission was never meant to be permanent, he wishes it could have concluded it's work before being disbanded.

"I don't think you're going to see a Moreland any time in the near future from any Governor," said Mollen.

****In Broome County, Jason Weinstein, Fox 40 HD News****