The governor of New York on Tuesday proposed new legal powers to tackle corrupt politicians, following the announcement last week of bribery charges against lawmakers in the US state.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said the crackdown would raise public corruption crimes above regular white collar crimes.
It comes the week after state lawmakers were ensnared in two separate federal probes, including a state senator accused of trying to bribe his way onto the Republican ballot for New York City’s upcoming mayoral vote.
Cuomo’s proposed new laws would expand definitions of public corruption, toughen jail sentences for people misusing public funds.
They would also bar anyone convicted of such crimes from holding elected or civil office or receiving state funding or contracts of any kind.
The new class of crimes would include bribing a pubic servant, corrupting the government and failing to report a bribe.
“Preventing public corruption is essential to ensuring that government works and can effectively keep the public’s trust,” Cuomo said.
“When they (public servants) break the law, they also break the public trust that the people have placed in government,” he said.
“This legislation will continue our work to restore public trust by giving every district attorney in our state the tools they need to root out and punish all forms of public corruption at every level of government.”
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance supported a toughening of the rules.
“It’s time for our laws to catch up with reality,” he said.
“Just as the public needs confidence in the fairness of our criminal justice system, we also need to have faith that the men and women entrusted to do the public’s work are doing so honestly.”