Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Cuomo To Require More Disclosure On 'Member Item'


This is exactly the sort of thing...the voters were looking for......Cuomo/Spitzer are making sure they deliver on their campaign promises of reforming the way Albany does business.........andy

Recipients of state "member item" grants will have to reveal any financial relationships or potential conflicts of interest they have with lawmakers doling out the funding, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said Monday.
On Friday, Gov. Eliot Spitzer's budget office told all state agencies, departments and authorities to send any new "member item" contracts to the attorney general's office for review. As part of that effort, Cuomo is requiring recipients to make the disclosures. In order to have funding approved, the recipients will also have to show their organization is in good legal standing and attest the funds will be used for a public purpose. Those found to have lied on the form are subject to perjury charges, Cuomo said. Gov. Eliot Spitzer and legislative leaders last week agreed to budget reforms that included the detailing of all budget spending, including pork-barrel grants. The agreement will require the secretive "member items" to be disclosed before they are put to a vote by the Legislature. Member items total more than $200 million a year in grants that, until this year, were allocated by lawmakers and the governor with little public disclosure. The grants mostly go to established nonprofit organizations for things like job creation and training programs, and to youth leagues and local attractions including, once, a cheese museum. In December, state Sen. Efrain Gonzalez Jr. pleaded not guilty to charges that he used charity groups to hide more than $400,000 of state money he wanted to steal. Prosecutors said Gonzalez siphoned money away from charity groups that received state grants. He has denied any wrongdoing

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