Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell was recently named chair of the Ethics Committee, a position that will put him at the center of one of the most hotly contested issues in Albany.
In January, both Legislative chambers passed an ethics reform bill nearly unanimously. The bill would have required additional disclosures from legislators and those doing business with the state. Gov. David Paterson vetoed the bill, saying it was too weak without an independent ethics panel for the Legislature.
O’Donnell, who voted for the vetoed ethics bill, will now be leading the committee that may have to draft compromise legislation.
“The question is whether or not we can come up with another version of that bill that the governor won’t veto,” O’Donnell said. “I’d certainly like to continue conversation and dialogue with minority members in our house and Republicans in the State Senate, as well as the governor’s office, to come up with an ethics package that addresses concerns New Yorkers have with how this place runs.”
O’Donnell, elected in 2002, conceded that “functioning” and “Albany” are rarely used in the same sentence these days, which might impede comprehensive ethics reform.
“Obviously, from my perspective, public financing of elections will create a much more level playing field,” O’Donnell said. “But when you have a Senate with a one vote majority, there’s little that can be agreed upon that makes everyone happy.”
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