Cuomo and Member Items

In a speech delivered just now, Andrew Cuomo said he’s going to audit 6,000 member items doled out by state lawmakers and recover any “misspent funds.”

Cuomo said he would seek to recover the money under the Tweed law or other statutory authority, but did not indicate what action would be taken against a lawmaker who doled out the misspent money.

Future member items, he said, will have to meet the following criteria:

1) a bona fide legal public purpose for the grant;

2) effective administration by a state agency pursuant to a contract with specific terms and conditions which can be measured and controlled;

3) compliance in actual grant implementation; and

4) full disclosure of all grants throughout the budget process.

Cuomo also said he’ll elevate the status of the Public Integrity Unit to Special Deputy Attorney General level and expand the staff in that area.

All this is music to the ears of good government groups, and to people on Wall Street, as The Dealbook noted yesterday.

– Azi Paybarah

UPDATE: Cuomo spokesperson Wendy Katz clarified to me that the review of member items will apply to those authorized this year, not in previous years.

Most of the member items authorized this year haven’t actually been issued, she explained, so the items determined to have no legal basis simply won’t be approved. If the member item was already dispersed and is later found to be unjustified, the attorney general’s office will try to use the Tweed Law to recover the money.

Just to clear that up.