Thursday, November 30, 2006

Spitzer’s Unilateral Disarmament

Elizabeth Benjamin Capitol Confidential

I am going to give you the unedited story by is worth the read.....Eliot is living up to his promises of reform and change...he is walking the walk..instead of just talking the talk....these changes are much needed and a step in the right direction....Eliot is the real deal...............andy

Governor-elect Eliot Spitzer today unveiled a sweeping package of executive reform actions that apply to himself, his immediate staff and LG-elect David Paterson to, as Spitzer put it: “set a tone, to set a message and to set an example.”
Chief among the reforms are self-imposed campaign finance limits; Spitzer and Paterson said they will voluntarily restrict the cash they accept from here on out.
“I have heard people say, “I cannot unilaterally disarm,’” Spitzer said. “We are doing that today.”
Neither Spitzer nor Paterson will accept contributions from individuals, partnerships, LLCs, unions, PACs or other non-corporate entities over $10,000. This is, Spitzer said, an 80 percent cut in the legal limit. Also, the governor and LG will not accept contribubtions from corporate subsidiaries if their parent companies have already given the $5,000 maximum.
In addition, LLC contributions will be banned if the individual or entity who controls the LLC has already maxed out.
“It is right to say to the Legislature that we will lead by example,” Spitzer said. “We are not going to play by the same old rules because they are corrosive and the public has rightly said they want change.”
Had this rule applied during the campaign, Spitzer’s cash would have been dramatically curtailed from key donors like casino developer Richard Fields, for example.
Spitzer said he felt it was perfectly “appropriate” for him to have accepted big cash from LLCs during the campaign, since it was permitted under the current law. “What we are doing is trying to change the paradigm,” Spitzer said, adding that he plans to send some of these reforms to the Legislature in the form of program bills after he takes office.
Other highlights include:
A total gift ban that applies to all “at-will” gubernatorial employees as well as those at state agencies and authorities. This includes anything other than items of “nominal” value, Spitzer said, like cups of coffee and T-shirts, for example.
A two-year ban on former gubernatorial employees from lobbying any executive branch (not just the one they left).
No paid speeches for either the governor or the LG.
No appearances by either the governor or LG in taxpayer-funded commercials (”State commercials (such as “I Love NY” ads) featuring elected officials create the appearance that taxpayer dollars are being spent to benefit the political career of the elected official,” Spitzer’s press release reads. “This practice will end.”)
A ban on high-level employees running for state or federal office.
A prohibition on campaign contributions to the governor and LG from all at-will state employees.
No hosting or participation in fundraisers by either the governor or the LG in the Capital Region during the legislative session.
A prohibition on requiring people to change party enrollment to meet requirements of being appointed to a public post.
No hiring or contract official will be allowed to ask prospective employees or contractors about their party affiliation.
In addition, Spitzer plans to share as much information about the budget and expected revenues with both houses of the Legislature as early as possible. If all parties can’t reach a consensus on revenue projections, Spitzer said, he will defer to the state comptroller.
All member items will be set forth as separate line items in the budget.
AND, joy of joys, he will hold regular news conferences and interviews to “ensure that the public is informed and to promote a vigorous public debate on the issues;” start Web casting meetings of the MTA, the PSC and other state entities; have an “open door” policy for legislators; make the Executive Mansion and state Capitol more accessible to the public (and members of the press!).
In other words, the end of Fort Pataki may be near.
“We very much want to make the public corridors of the Capitol public corridors,” Spitzer said. “We will work very hard to do that.”
During the Q and A, Spitzer said he doesn’t plan to do any fundraising to pay for his inaugural celebration (a practice that got his predecessor, Gov. George Pataki, in hot water). He said he will use money left over in his campaign account to fund the festivities.
“I don’t want there to be any fundraising for this,” Spitzer said. “It creates all the wrong messages and imagry…There have been problems in the past. So, I see no reason to go anywhere near that.”

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