Cuomo Releases Hevesi-Inspired Pension Reform Plan (Updated)
A week after former Comptroller Alan Hevesi was sentenced to 1-4 years in state prison, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has released a reform proposal aimed at stomping out corruption in the pension fund pool.
The new guidelines address an issue raised by Jim Odato’s column in the TU on Monday, which pointed out many of the safeguards put in place by the state Insurance Department in the wake of the Hevesi scandal were temporary.
“It is long past time that we learned the lessons of the Hevesi case and made permanent changes to our system that will stop the culture of corruption,” Cuomo said in a statement. “In case after case in the pension fund investigation, we saw the systemic abuse of the pension fund by public officials and those seeking quick profits at the expense of taxpayers. Our mission now must be to protect public and taxpayer dollars from being further abused by elected officials who misuse their office and violate the law.”
Hevesi, a Democrat, plead guilty to using his office in a massive pay-to-play pension fund scheme. Hevesi received millions of dollars in trips and gifts in exchange for favorable investment in the fund. The scandal also led to the conviction of Hevesi’s longtime political fixer, Hank Morris, as well as five other people.
Among the proposals:
· A permanent ban on elected officials, lobbyists and all placement agents, whether paid or unpaid, which have been a source of conflicts of interest with the pension fund.
· Impose a higher standard of conduct: The new regulation will prohibit (1) improper relationships between pension fund officials and an investment firm’s personnel or agents, (2) “revolving door” employment by investment firms of former public pension fund officials and employees, and (3) improper gifts by investment firms to public pension fund employees and officials.
· A prohibition on firms that make contributions to the Comptroller: The regulation will also ban investment firms that directly or indirectly make campaign contributions, charitable contributions, or gifts to the Comptroller.
Cuomo also plans to introduce a measure that would prohibit a state employee convicted of a felony from receiving their pension. The Hevesi conviction was a feather in Cuomo’s cap just as he was leaving to the attorney general’s office to be sworn in as governor.
Update: Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who hasn’t been on the best of terms with the governor — Cuomo did not endorse him during the campaign — issued a statement noting that placement agents have been banned since 2009 in his office.
Comptroller DiNapoli banned placement agents in April 2009. As long as he’s Comptroller, that ban will stay in effect. The Comptroller welcomes today’s regulations, and he continues to advocate that his placement agent ban – along with the pension forfeiture bill he proposed earlier this year and his other pension reforms – be made into law.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Nick Reisman on April 26, 2011 at 2:26 pm, and is filed under Alan Hevesi, Andrew Cuomo, Lobbying, Reform. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|