Sometimes when you watch Albany politics, things get so nutty that you just have to laugh. This is exactly the case as the Legislature and the governor duke it out over ethical behavior. The legislators seem to be saying that if the governor is going to hold them accountable regarding ethics, they will hold him equally accountable. It goes something like this: “If you want to know how much money we legislators are making on the outside, we want to know how much you are making.” While the governor’s people may argue that this is a case of apples and oranges, it most certainly is not. Fair is fair.
Any student of state government surely knows that the governmental powers of New York’s chief executive are high on the list in this country. So assuming that people who want something from government may try to legally — or even illegally — bribe the people who hold the power, it stands to reason that the governor’s clout is greater than that of any single legislator. Am I right? Of course I’m right. If the governor gets a huge payout from a publishing company owned by a rich and powerful man and almost no one buys the book, shouldn’t that raise eyebrows? Remember when Joe Bruno got into trouble for selling a near worthless nag to a guy who admitted he paid too much for the horse in order to gain favor with Bruno?
The governor rightfully insists that that legislators should disclose exactly how much money they are making on the outside. Of course we are entitled to that information. I’ve been yelling about this for years. None of this silliness of “between a hundred and several hundred thousand dollars.” Tell us to the penny and tell us what you did for the money. But the governor is a smart man and he knows that there are several ways to bribe a legislator. Hey, some of them are even legal. You can, for example, hire the legislator as a lawyer or a consultant or buy insurance from him or — and this is where the funnies begin — you can do the same thing with his significant other. So the governor wants them to disclose money earned by their girlfriends, husbands, wives, or partners. Of course, there are sons and daughters and sisters-in-law who you can funnel the money to. Obviously, when the governor starts talking about their girlfriends, he makes them very, very nervous. I actually don’t blame them for being nervous. This is entirely new territory.
But wait a minute. Doesn’t the governor have a girlfriend? As Casey Stengel once instructed us, “You can look it up!” I personally believe that Andrew Cuomo deserves a medal for living with a woman who is not his wife, but the married legislators are worried about mentions of girlfriends and such. That’s what’s got everyone so nervous. Legislators are now insisting that Andrew’s girlfriend, Sandra Lee, should have to disclose her income to the penny, too. After all, someone may be trying to get to Cuomo through her. Of course, no legislator wants to be the one out-front on this lest they be accused of sin. Nevertheless, they are certainly correct that if they have to disclose what their girlfriends are making, the governor should, too. Am I right? Of course I’m right.