The New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics recently announced that it had issued more than 50 notices to candidates for the state legislature who were delinquent in filing financial disclosure statements. A Senate candidate in the Hudson Valley is making hay of his opponent’s name appearing on the list.
Democratic Assemblyman James Skoufis, who is looking to fill the state Senate seat in the 39th District held by the retiring Republican Bill Larkin, called out his Republican opponent Tom Basile for being on the list.
“And it’s really indicative, I think, of how he can’t be trusted if he were ever to get up to Albany to clean up the mess that exists in the state capital,” Skoufis says.
While these comments came Tuesday, Skoufis initially put out a statement August 16, the day JCOPE announced the notices to candidates, criticizing Basile for not filing at all. On the same day, Basile campaign spokesman Bob Driscoll fired back, providing a photo of the Legislative Ethics Commission’s receipt of Basile’s form, with a time stamp of August 15. Driscoll put out a statement saying that Skoufis did not have the facts straight, that Basile’s financial disclosure statement was delivered to the Legislative Ethics Commission earlier in the week. Driscoll said the Basile campaign was sure Skoufis would have another baseless attack out soon. Skoufis countered with another statement later that day. Here’s Skoufis, speaking Tuesday.
“And to spin this, like my opponent has, where he said, ‘oh, I handed it in, nothing to see here,’ failing to acknowledge that, yeah, you did hand it in, but it was 24 days late, it’s really just stunning and appalling,” says Skoufis.
Others on the delinquency list include a few candidates for the 104th Assembly District, where there is a race to fill the seat of Democrat Frank Skartados, who died in April. Meantime, Skoufis and Basile have some different ideas when it comes to ethics reform.
“The biggest reform in my mind is banning or strictly limiting outside income for legislators,” says Skoufis. “If you look at all these indictments and convictions, a large majority of them have to do with a legislator or official taking outside money in some way, shape or form, oftentimes through another job or so-called job, oftentimes a no-show job that they have.”
Skoufis also says he wants to close the LLC campaign finance loophole. Basile, soon to roll out more details on ethics reform, is calling for term limits and greater transparency. And he wants to curb the power of partisan leaders in the legislature, saying they single-handedly kill bills that go against the wishes of donors and special interest groups. Neither Skoufis nor Basile faces a primary opponent.