June 17, 2015

Assembly Passes Legislation to Strip Pensions from Corrupt Public Officials

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Assemblyman David Buchwald today announced the passage of legislation to continue the Assembly's push for ethics reforms by ensuring public officers convicted of corruption do not receive taxpayer-funded pensions (A.7704, Buchwald).

"Elected officials work for the public, not for their own interest," said Speaker Heastie. "As public servants, we have a responsibility to the people we represent. When officials violate the public trust, they must be held accountable - including giving up their taxpayer-funded pensions."

"Corrupt public officers have made a choice to put their personal interests above those of the people they represent," said Assemblyman Buchwald. "When government officials violate the public's trust, they should know there are consequences. This legislation ensures that officeholders who have violated their oaths of office do not retire on the taxpayers' dime."

The proposed constitutional amendment would apply to all elected officials at the state and local level, judges, executive appointees, policymakers and certain members of public boards and government bodies. To protect innocent family members, a judge would be required to set aside a portion of the pension for a spouse and dependent children. Passage of the measure builds on the Assembly's ongoing commitment to increasing transparency and accountability in government, including a series of ethics reforms in this year's state budget which increased disclosure of legislators' outside income, improved transparency for travel reimbursements and strengthened campaign finance laws.

The Assembly's amendment now moves to the Senate. Should the amendment pass the Senate, it would need to pass again during the next legislative term to appear on the ballot as a public referendum to change the New York State Constitution.