The State Senate Finds a New Way to Fail

In a turn that shocked at least one person, the New York State Senate failed to pass an ethics reform bill yesterday.

Now that the bright lights of an epic stalemate have slowly faded, and the clown sent by the New York Post has trudged back home, it seems the state senate would prefer everyone — particularly the Board of Elections — not trouble themselves too terribly with their affairs.

Yesterday’s reform bill would have increased oversight of the legislature — of which there is now almost none — to make sure the state’s law-makers are actually complying with laws. In particular, it would have established a compliance unit for the Board of Elections and overhauled the Commission on Public Integrity, which officially became a misnomer in May, when an inspector general’s report chastised the commission for its handling of an investigation into Eliot Spitzer’s administration.

One might expect Democrats were to blame for the bill’s failure — after all, Majority Leader Pedro Espada, Jr. has been known to file his campaign finance reports after the election, preferring to incur a modest fine on his way back to Albany — but Democrats say it was all the fault of Republicans. Republicans claim the Democrats put a “poison pill” into the bill, in the form of an amendment to create the new complicance unit, which they say would be inefficient and lead to partisan “witch hunts.” A cynic might suspect that the bill had been sabotaged, to prevent any increased oversight.

The bill’s sponsor, State Senator Daniel Squadron of Brooklyn, is not so cynical. Currently enjoying his first term in the august institution, it was Senator Squadron who told the Times that the bill’s failure was both “shocking and disappointing.”

The State Senate Finds a New Way to Fail