From the Queens Chronicle:
The U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York is upping the ante in his fight against political corruption in the state, telling the governor’s Moreland Commission that his office will start going after the pensions of public officials who are convicted of crimes.
And an unscientific survey of elected officials from Queens elicited that legal changes and legal challenges will be forthcoming.
Speaking before the commission at Pace University in Manhattan on Sept. 17, Preet Bharara said his aim is a simple one.
“Convicted politicians should not grow old comfortably cushioned by a pension paid for by the very people they betrayed in office,” Bharara said in a copy of his testimony released by his office.
The commission was appointed this past summer by Gov. Cuomo following a spate of corruption charges against state and city officials in the preceding months.
“I understand the sentiment — people should not be rewarded for bad acts,” Assemblyman Bill Scarborough (D-Jamaica) said. “I think the United States Attorney will move forward, and I think there will be a legal test where this will be determined.”
Published reports quote Gov. Cuomo as saying there may be state constitutional concerns with Bharara’s proposal, a concern Scarborough shares.
Scarborough and state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), who said he is in favor of the idea, also believe that a 2011 law aimed at those elected after that year may be unclear in regard to Bharara’s efforts.
“If it’s not in existing legislation, I’ll introduce it,” Avella said. “Again, only if you are convicted. It’s absolutely a disgrace that you can abuse the public trust and still get a pension.” He said private pensions earned by those same individuals should not be subject to any bill he puts forth.