Grim-face political celebukid and New York governor Andrew Cuomo has long vowed that he wants to reform the corrupt political cesspool that is Albany. How's that going?
It is going just as horribly as you would imagine, if you have even a passing familiarity with New York state politics, United States politics, or human nature. You may have heard that after establishing a group dedicated to reforming Albany's ethics, the Moreland Commission, Cuomo abruptly shut the group down earlier this year out of political expediency. Also they were accusing Andrew Cuomo of perhaps participating in the less than ideal ethical practices of Albany! How dare they?
The New York Times has done a fine job of doggedly pursuing the Albany ethics story, even as Albany hates them for it and readers yawn. Good job, newspaper! Today they bring to light more follow up information from the commission's abandoned work. Instead of just sitting back and muttering vaguely about how corrupt our political system is, it is useful, at times, to reflect upon the exact details of how corrupt our political system is. Here, for example, is some illuminating information on how Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo takes advantage of a gaping campaign finance loophole that the Moreland Commission specifically recommended closing—a loophole that allows corporations to funnel huge sums of money to politicians just by forming LLCs. From the NYT:
Corporations like Glenwood [Management, a New York developer] are permitted to make a total of no more than $5,000 a year in political donations. But New York's "LLC loophole" treats limited-liability companies as people, not corporations, allowing them to donate up to $60,800 to a statewide candidate per election cycle. So when Mr. Cuomo's campaign wanted to nail down what became a $1 million multiyear commitment — and suggested "breaking it down into biannual installments" — the company complied by dividing each payment into permissible amounts and contributing those through some of the many opaquely named limited-liability companies it controlled, like Tribeca North End LLC.
The Cuomo campaign reminded the firm later of 10 Glenwood-controlled LLCs that had already made donations.
Mmm, how efficient and businesslike. If you are able to say with a straight face that a million-dollar "multiyear commitment" from a developer to an elected official does not come with an implied quid pro quo, well, you could be a public servant in the state of New York.