Follow-up to US Attorney Preet Bharara’s Investigation
The recent announcement that US Attorney to the Southern District Preet Bharara has expanded his corruption probe into Westchester County and has issued subpoenas to County Executive Rob Astorino’s office highlights the need for Westchester County to adopt a law that has been on the books in the Town of Greenburgh since 2007.
Westchester County Executive Astorino and other county lawmakers are no different than lawmakers at the state and federal levels. They solicit and accept contributions from most contractors, consultants and applicants who want something in return. It is part of the “pay to play” culture that has encouraged people to lose confidence in public officials. I have often wondered how many county consultants or contractors will get business with the county if they had not or would not contribute to re-election campaign efforts. My guess; not many!
The Greenburgh Town Board had in 2007 unanimously approved a law that has been cited as the toughest in the state; perhaps in the nation. We prohibit incumbent officials from accepting campaign contributions from those who have applications pending before the government or contracts with the government. Our law prohibits incumbents from accepting contributions from developers, contractors, consultants and their attorney’s who appear before the Town seeking approvals. It makes it difficult for lawmakers to raise funds during campaigns. But it is easier to do the right thing for the taxpayers because no one in a position of authority is influenced by campaign dollars.
Paul Feiner is Greenburgh Town Supervisor