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Cuomo outlines ethics reforms for Albany, but is change possible?

Gov. Andrew Cuomo once again signaled Thursday he would be open to changes to how procurement and contracting is done in the state as well as expanding the state’s Freedom of Information of Law.

“I’ll have a very aggressive ethics program,” Cuomo said in an interview with WAMC. “I want to do real contract procurement. I want to FOIL for the legislative and the executive.”

Cuomo on Wednesday told reporters he be supportive of procurement reforms that had initially been called for in the wake of his former close aide Joe Percoco’s arrest in connection to a bribery and bid-rigging scheme.

On Thursday, Cuomo said those procurement reforms would be “better than pre-audit.”

“I want to do a questionnaire to the grantee that comes with the contract,” Cuomo said. “Did you have a lobbyist? Did you have a lawyer? Do you have a relationship with the granting entity? Ask the questions that give the comptroller and the IG real leads to follow up on.”

Movement on the issue comes as Democratic lawmakers had also telegraphed their desire to back the stalled reforms as well, including return the pre-audit powers back to the state comptroller’s office. Cuomo had previously pointed to internal reforms instituted in the wake of the corruption arrests.

But making changes to the state’s lobbying and ethics watchdog, the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, may be a heavier lift.

Sen. Liz Krueger this week called for the passage of a constitutional amendment that would create a new watchdog entity with a majority of appointments made by the state’s judiciary.

“I would support it if it makes sense,” Cuomo said. “That was a complicated equation. Let’s do the things we know we can do right up front.”

He added, “I’m in favor of it, but I really want to get things done quickly.”

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