Perdue: Eliminate Outside Income; Goodell: Combat ‘Pay-To-Play’

Editor’s note: This is the third of four articles on a debate held by The Post-Journal and The OBSERVER between New York State Assembly candidates Andy Goodell and Jason Perdue.

New York State Assembly hopefuls are proposing distinct solutions to restore trust and eliminate corruption in Albany.

Top priorities for Democratic challenger Jason Perdue include eliminating outside influence and installing term limits. The culture of pay-to-play is driving Albany’s ethics issues, according to Republican incumbent Andy Goodell, who’s sponsoring legislation to stop the corruptive activity.

Leading off the debate, Perdue listed outside income as the biggest contributing factor that’s creating corruption among legislators. Perdue jabbed Goodell’s vote against limiting outside income, which he said would have been a stepping stone in beginning to limit corruption.

“That’s troubling, but what’s more troubling is how he tried to justify the ‘no’ vote by stating that limiting outside income would have the effect of keeping successful people out of the legislature,” Perdue said. “It’s a philosophy that makes it obvious that our legislators are concerned with protecting their own income stream rather than fighting to solve the No. 1 contributing factor.”

Outside income didn’t spark the arrests of a dozen legislators over the years, according to Goodell. Instead, accepting bribes and submitting false per diems have been the major issues leading to arrests.

“There’s no correlation between corruption that we’ve seen and outside income,” he said.

In addition, Goodell said the state prohibits any outside income that conflicts with legislative duties and requires detailed financial disclosure to make sure legislators are in compliance. Eliminating corruption, Goodell emphasized the need to do away with pay-to-play through legislation he’s proposing.

“This is the type of legislation that would have banned LPCiminelli from making contributions to the governor when getting a no-bid, $276 million contract. Ciminelli not only contributed $100,000, but raised another quarter million for the governor,” Goodell said. “There are no restrictions on campaign financing for people who have direct financial interest in legislation that’s pending before the legislature.”

In eliminating outside income, Perdue said those elected to office who are paid by taxpayers would be more focused on working for the people as opposed to getting richer.

On top of ridding outside income and enacting term limits, Perdue said he’ll ensure the job is full-time as the difficult issues need to be addressed by an individual who’s focused on them full time.

In response, Goodell said he gave up a substantial portion of his private practice when he decided to run for office. In addition, he said prohibiting outside income will disallow only two groups from serving on the legislature convicted felons and successful businessmen. Goodell said such a move would create professional politicians who would do anything to get reelected since they have nothing to fall back on.

“Having spent six years on the floor, the people who have the most thoughtful and rational comments on pending legislation are those members who are involved in that area of business, whether it’s a pharmacist, insurance agent, attorney or others,” he said. “The most important thing to do is to ensure that we have part-time citizen legislators who bring a wealth of experience to the legislature and share that experience to ensure legislation makes sense.”

In response, Perdue said the claim that eliminating outside income would create a professional politician is baseless. Goodell said the state is taking steps to address ethics reform, but current law already prohibits any income that would pose any conflict of interest to a legislator’s duty.