Dutchess County Legislator Sue Serino joins Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell, Yorktown Councilman Terrence Murphy and Carmel Town Supervisor Ken Schmitt calling for reforms that would hold politicians who abuse the public’s trust accountable.
Today, Dutchess County Legislator and 41st state Senate District candidate Sue Serino (R,C,I-Hyde Park) joined Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell, Yorktown Councilman and 40th state Senate District candidate Terrence Murphy, and Carmel Town Supervisor Ken Schmitt for a press conference to address the recent batch of corruption allegations in state government. Over recent months, New York’s state government has been plagued with allegations of ethical lapses by elected officials that has resulted in a federal prosecutor reviewing actions by members of the executive branch and legislature. Serino and her colleagues used today’s press conference to call for reforms to the system, including empowering District Attorney’s to strip pensions from convicted elected officials and enacting safeguards against the use of campaign funds for legal protection.
“Albany has a long history of corruption by career politicians. This has been accentuated recently by the shameful acts of elected officials and others who put personal gain ahead of the good of the people,” said Serino. “Even worse, thanks to protections written into the law by those same career politicians, New York’s taxpayers are still on the hook to support these corrupt officials for life. This isn’t right, and we must change it. That’s why we need to empower local district attorneys to be able to strip public pensions from elected officials, even if they were elected to office before the law took effect and end the practice of paying for legal defense through campaign contributions.”
“The time has come to demand the end of double standards and address the need for accountability of all elected officials from the top down," said Dr. Terrence Murphy. "I believe, should an elected official be found to have violated the public trust, they should lose all benefits and their pension. It is time for politicians to have some skin the game and lead by example."
“Putnam County witnessed an abuse of power by a state official firsthand,” said Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell. “Albany needs to hold itself accountable now not the next generation of state legislators. We need to put honest people like Terrence Murphy and Sue Serino to Albany then we can finally get our state working for the people again.”
Currently, state law protects pensions for politicians from being forfeited regardless of a felony conviction related to their job. Among the proposals Serino supports would be: a ban on individuals convicted of felonies related to official duties from future public employment, lobbying activity or bidding on state contracts; empowering District Attorney’s to remove pensions from convicted elected officials as a form of restitution; and limiting the use of campaign funds to only campaign activities by prohibiting the use of funds for criminal defense or salary payments to staff or family.
“Above all elected officials have a responsibility to do what’s right. State government needs people committed to reforming the system and making sure government works for the people. Right now, parents can’t trust that their children will be protected from harassment and taxpayers can’t trust their money is being spent responsibly. Elected officials should be held to higher standards than that,” concluded Serino.