New York Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney of the 18th district discussed the recent arrest of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver during a taping of WAMC's Congressional Corner on Wednesday.
Sean Patrick Maloney: Well, look here’s what I think, I think we need change in our politics. And I think that if is an opportunity to really reform the way Albany works, then it is a blessing. You never like to see this kind of thing happen, particularly at this level in government, it just breeds more distrust and more cynicism. I’m personally disgusted by the allegations. It offends me personally. You know, I think when you’re in this business and you’re doing it for the right reasons nothing makes you angrier then you see somebody else engaged in conduct that is immoral, that is illegal, that cannot be justified and that makes it harder for the rest of us to do anything. So that is bad enough. But what would be really tragic would be if one guy goes to jail and the whole system just goes back to business as usual.
Alan Chartock: Couldn’t agree with you more.
Sean Patrick Maloney: We must have power spread in Albany, you need to empower more of the members and the committee chairmen. You need to give them more power to hire and fire their own staff. There should probably be some term limits on at least leadership positions, so you get more turnover. There must be more transparency in terms of the income of lawmakers. I’d like to see them do away with outside income. And if we did away with that, maybe you’ve got to change the compensation structure of the people who are there. There are some critical reforms that are the most important thing now and this is an opportunity to get them done. Now I don’t want to get too far out of my lane. You know what I mean, I’m not a state lawmaker, the Assembly has to do this on their own, but that would be my hope that we can change this system, we can do better than this. My god, this is the state of New York. 20 million people should not be governed by three men in a room in an opaque system that allows this kind of corruption. It’s wrong and we can do better.
Alan Chartock: Now I hate to do this to you, Sean. Because I know this is not a good thing to do to a Democratic Congressman. But we have Andrew Cuomo, who intervened in the process, and he says when they were going to open it up, and they were going to have more people than three people in the room, he says no, no, I got to be able to talk to just one. Was he wrong?
Sean Patrick Maloney: Look, that’s why this is an opportunity to reform the system. I give the governor an enormous amount of credit for what he has accomplished in Albany, and for showing how to make that bad system produce some good results. If you look what he did in the area of marriage equality, delivering on-time budgets, this governor has done some very good things, and I think has almost always had the right goals, he’s just one guy in a bad system. I do think Andrew Cuomo, if he had his way, would change it tomorrow. And I think this is an opportunity to really shine a light on not just the wrongdoing, or alleged wrongdoing, of one individual. Because honestly that’s not the issue in the end. The issue is, how is this thing set up, who is it working for, why can’t we do it better? And that’s what I’d like to see. And I’m sure that Andrew Cuomo would love to see a reformed Albany as well. I think the governor has been getting a bad rap in a lot of this, I’ve got to say.