The debate is underway in Albany after the so-called Moreland Commission, investigating public corruption, issued a preliminary report this week. The panel is co-chaired by Onondaga County's republican District Attorney. YNN's Bill Carey says the DA says he's still stunned by the depth of wrongdoing and unethical behavior the commission has already uncovered.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick says he can't fathom why state lawmakers, facing a cloud of public suspicion over corruption, aren't lining up to embrace the proposals contained in the Moreland Commission's preliminary report.
"I think the legislature should look at this document as a package and say, you know what? This is embarrassing. This is embarrassing. How many people have to get arrested before someone says, Good Lord, we need to reform ourselves," Fitzpatrick said.
Already opponents of various commission proposals are promising battles over the legislation in 2014. The DA says it's something he just can't understand.
Fitzpatrick said, "The people that should really be upset, even more so than I am, are the decent legislators, which is the vast majority of them. The people that really went to Albany to try to do some good. Why aren't they standing up and saying, 'You know what? I don't care what my party leadership says.'"
The Commission co-chair defends all of the proposals put on the table, saying they're important pieces in changing the atmosphere in Albany. Steps ranging from the call for public financing of campaigns to a plan to establish an independent office to investigate campaign wrongdoing.
The Moreland Commission has another year before it's due to issue its final report, but Fitzpatrick says it will be busy in the meantime.
Busy focusing on investigations into potentially criminal activity by state officials uncovered by the commission.
"We'll look at the information gathered by our investigations bureau, make a decision, is there anything more that we can do? And, if the answer is no, then make a decision, as a prosecutor, would I at this point feel comfortable and ethical in convening a grand jury and presenting evidence? If the answer to that is yes, then we'll make a referral," Fitzpatrick said.
The District Attorney expects a number of such referrals to be coming from the commission to federal attorneys, DAs and the State Attorney General, in the months ahead