ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Some lawmakers are hoping to pass legislation that would stop former disgraced politicians from spending campaign money to advance political candidates or political agendas.
This bill would affect an elected official that has been convicted of a crime while in office, has been impeached and convicted, or has resigned after the attorney general or a committee of the legislature find that they have violated the law.
“Unfortunately, it seems like every few months, this state is plagued with corruption scandals and people resigning from office,” stated New York State Senator, Alessandra Biaggi. “It really is a very timely policy to be prioritizing and that’s what we are doing.”
Where would the money go? One option is that it could be returned to those who contributed it.
“It doesn’t get taken away,” explained Assemblyman Phil Steck. “There are things in the election law that people are allowed to use the money for such as giving it to charity and they have to dispose of it within two years under the proposed legislation.”
If passed, this would impact people such as former Governor Andrew Cuomo.
“This bill absolutely would affect our former governor, Cuomo, who left office with more than $18 million dollars in his campaign war chest. As of this past January 2022, he actually still had $16 million dollars on hand to spend if he chooses,” said Biaggi.
Assemblyman Phil Steck said this would not prevent a person from opening a new campaign account in the future.
“I am a strong supporter of the former governor’s right for free speech,” said Steck.” If he wants to run for another office in the state or for governor again, he can go out and raise the money to do that. The bill doesn’t prevent him from doing that. That is his right. But he raised this money because he was governor of the State of New York. If he were not, he would not have raised it.”
Even though Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin recently resigned from office after being charged with campaign finance corruption, this legislation would not impact him.
“He has been charged of course with a crime, but he has not been convicted of a crime, so that is why this bill does not apply to him,” explained Biaggi.
If passed, the legislation would go into effect immediately. Sponsors of the bill are hoping to get it passed before the end of session in June.