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Photo by Mark Hallum
State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli endorsed the re-election of state Sen. Toby Stavisky and discussed the need for campaign finance and ethics reform through new legislation.
By Mark Hallum

State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing) and state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli spoke at a news conference last Friday about the campaign finance reform and ethics in politics.

DiNapoli opened the conference with the announcement of his endorsement of Stavisky, who has held the seat for the past seven elections, saying she stands as an example of integrity.

He said Stavisky was part of a minority of state legislators who signed on to an initiative known as the Clean Conscience Pledge, which is a legislative promise and joint effort from Citizens Union New York Common Cause and NYPIRG designed to restrict outside income for legislators.

According to the comptroller, real campaign finance reform starts with closing the limited liability corporation loopholes where money flows in from corporate entities whose sole purpose is to funnel money to politicians as campaign contributions. DiNapoli called for greater disclosure and transparency in the budgetary process for discretionary funding to offer accountability he sees as a much-needed reform in government.

He not only expressed his admiration for Stavisky’s support for higher education in her district, but also for her role as a leading woman in the political arena.

“She is a person of history in this borough,” DiNapoli said, referring to the fact that Stavisky was the first woman to be elected to state Senate in Queens.

Stavisky took the podium and said she was running for re-election to continue the trend she has set for increasing the minimum wage and a tuition freeze for students at the city and state level as well as the push for passage of the DREAM Act, which would allow undocumented students apply for the state Tuition Assistance Program and earn a college degree.

But Stavisky still believes more needs to be done to improve ethics and campaign finance reform, although she has already sponsored several bills to enhance ethics at the state level and improve finance procedures. The senator also spoke about the importance of closing the LLC loophole and limiting outside income for legislators.

“I don’t think you can be a legislator and own a business,” said Stavisky, who believes a lawmaker cannot effectively serve constituents and clients simultaneously. “You got to pick one, and I have chosen to be a legislator. I have no other outside income. To me public service is an opportunity to help people.”

DiNapoli predicted Stavisky would win the upcoming primary against Jung with her biggest margins ever.

Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhallum@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.

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