Kathy Hochul’s lame ethics reforms miss the real problem

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Gov. Kathy Hochul’s big “ethics reform” proposals are bizarrely off-base, as if she wants to do something but has no clue how to address New York’s real corruption issues.

As a key part of her first State of the State Address on Wednesday, her staff says she’ll propose term limits and a ban on outside income for statewide elected officials: What a joke.

Yes, the outside-income ban addresses disgraced ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $5.1 million book windfall. But that’s the only such abuse by a governor, state attorney general or comptroller on record, and unlikely to be repeated even without a ban. The state electeds who earn big outside money have long been legislators, and that income has already been limited recently.

As for term limits: While some govs, AGs and comptrollers may have overstayed their welcome, no one suggests the issue is a major driver of the mass dysfunction of state government, let alone a serious ethical problem. Once again, endless “service” is a far bigger source of corruption when it comes to the Legislature.

“With these bold reforms, we will ensure New Yorkers know their leaders work for them and are focused on serving the people of this state,” ran a statement Hochul issued Monday. Since the reforms are anything but bold, they come off as nothing but covering for business as usual.

If Hochul on Wednesday doesn’t at least deliver a serious plan for replacing the state’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics with a true watchdog, you can mark her down as part of the problem.

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