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Governor Cuomo’s budget proposal has some additional legislation tacked on that relates to government reform. It includes some policies that deserve a skeptical look, but others that could address pay-to-play in Albany.
One measure would prohibit campaign donations by contractors that are actively bidding or have recently bid on any government procurement contract.
The prohibition would apply to contributions to any office-holders and candidates that are part of the branch of government requesting the procurement. This would last for the bidding period (or 6 months after the final contract award for the winner).
Recent events in New York have highlighted the danger of mixing bids for government contracts with campaign contributions, gifts, bribes, and kickbacks.
Long Island restauranteur Harendrah Singh admitted to giving bribes and kickbacks to Nassau County and Town of Oyster Bay officials in exchange for indirect loan guarantees and was subsequently awarded government contracts. He also said he attempted to bribe Mayor de Blasio.
While there is a difference between a campaign contribution in an effort to secure favor and a bribe to attempt to guarantee a specific outcome, they often serve the same purpose and New York State ought to do a better job putting up obstacles to curb corrupt behavior.
Placing limits on how vendors can contribute to politicians or their campaigns would offer a much-needed layer of protection over how tax payer dollars are spent and would make it more difficult for vendors to use their checkbooks to influence contract awards.