Watchdogs to Governor: Keep Your Campaign Promises to Create Database of Deals and Prohibit Vendor Campaign Contributions
Despite the conviction of top aides and campaign contributors to the Governor for rigging more than $1B in state economic contracts, Governor Cuomo and the legislature have enacted no substantial Clean Contracting reforms.
In May, an overwhelming bipartisan majority of the State Senate passed the Comptroller’s Procurement Integrity Act (A.6355-A /S.3984 ) to review contracts before they are executed for state-affiliated nonprofits and a Database of Deals (A.8175-A/S.6613B) listing all business subsidies received by companies. The bills stalled in the Assembly because Speaker Heastie wanted a three-way agreement.
Since then, in the run-up to his reelection, Governor Cuomo pledged to the Daily News Editorial Board and Citizens Union that he would establish a Database of Deals . He also pledged to ban campaign contributions by vendors doing business with the State, as pointed out by the Times Union Editorial Board. The Governor could do either unilaterally via executive order, but legislation is much stronger and preferable.
Cuomo should honor his campaign commitments and act on clean contracting, a database of deals, and limits on campaign contributions by potential vendors.
Speaker Heastie has indicated a new openness to addressing contracting and business subsidies after preferring a three-way agreement for the last two legislative sessions but never reaching one. The Assembly did put a Database of Deals in its one-house budget resolution in 2018 and 2017 and moved the legislation forward in both years, but not to the floor.
Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins voted in favor of both DiNapoli’s bill and a Database of Deals as did all but one member of her 2018 conference. We therefore expect her to put the legislation on the floor again this session as her predecessor did.
We call on Governor and legislative leaders to act on clean contracting. If a three-way agreement can’t be reached, Speaker Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins should pass legislation to reform the state’s contracting. Two years is long enough to wait, and the corruption risk remains.