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April 9, 2013

Seward signs onto bill that would revoke pensions of corrupt officials

By JOE MAHONEY
The Daily Star

---- — Calling recent corruption scandals involving state lawmakers “indefensible,” state Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, said Monday he is joining in sponsoring legislation that would strip elected officials of their public pensions if they are convicted of felonies while in office.

The legislation, Seward said, requires an amendment to the state Constitution to terminate such pensions.

He said he is also calling for additional funding to fight corruption and stronger penalties for those convicted of ethics violations.

He said allowing public officials to collect their pensions after they have been convicted of corruption is “deplorable.”

Previous efforts to deny pensions to public officials involved in misconduct have been opposed by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, who has contended the proposals were legally defective.

In a radio interview Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he is going to attempt to tighten state ethics laws and push for campaign finance reform in an effort to combat corruption in politics and government.

For the past week, Albany has been transfixed by the separate arrests of Sen. Malcolm Smith, D-Queens, who allegedly tried to buy the GOP nomination for mayor of New York City, and Assemblyman Eric Stevenson, D-Bronx, accused of taking bribes in exchange for helping businesses in his district.

Smith was part of a small coalition of Democrats who aligned themselves with GOP senators, keeping the Republican conference, of which Seward is a member, in power in the upper house of the Legislature.