Colby Hamilton, Writer, WNYC News
Colby Hamilton is a general assignment reporter. He originally joined WNYC as a political blogger. He's a proud graduate of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.
Disgraced former State Senator Carl Kruger may have been found guilty on corruption charges, but he will still collect his pension as an elected official, per the state's constitution. New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli wants to try again to do something about it.
The Comptroller's office released a statement saying Kruger has submitted the necessary paperwork to collect his pension today. In response DiNapoli will resubmit a bill that would go beyond the recently-passed ethics reform to penalize lawmakers monetarily, as well as make Official Misconduct--currently a misdemeanor--a felony.
"Former Senator Kruger's actions were a breach of the public's trust, but the State Constitution prevents the forfeiture of his pension," DiNapoli said in a statement. "Public confidence in government has been bruised and battered. This bill will be a strong step toward rebuilding trust."
Lawmakers who took office after this past November are subject to losing their pensions if convicted of corruption. But acts that occurred before the law went into affect--as was the case with Kruger--are exempted. The Comptroller's bill would impose a fine of twice whatever monetary amount a lawmaker is convicted of (so let's say you're convicted of stealing $5,000, DiNapoli's law would fine you $10,000) as well as the aforementioned penal class increase.
"My bill would ensure that those public officials who engage in corrupt practices and wrongdoing will suffer a cost to themselves and their families if they abuse their position for personal gain," DiNapoli said.