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The recent announcement that U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara has expanded his corruption probe into Westchester 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 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's part of the pay to play culture.
I have often wondered how many county consultants or contractors will get business with the county if they don't contribute to re-election campaigns. My guess: not many.
In 2007 the Greenburgh Town Board 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.
Another option If the County Executive or legislators receive a campaign donation of $1000 or more from an applicant during the previous 12 months he/she would not be able to vote on the application. the lawmaker would have to recuse themselves from a vote.
The County Executive sits on the Board of Acquisition and Contract which has the ability to approve/reject all county contracts. Legislators could accept contributions from anyone as long as they don't vote to push the application in any way.
If enough public officials start recusing themselves from voting on applications of those who benefit from a government action, we will make progress in eliminating legalized bribery.
Greenburgh Town Supervisor
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