New bill could close loophole that let Skelos, Silver walk

It may take an act of Congress to clean up Albany.

Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-L.I.) announced legislation on Wednesday to close a loophole that led to the overturning of several corruption convictions against public officials.

A Supreme Court ruling last year narrowed the definition of “official acts,” which limited the ability of prosecutors to convict politicians like former state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

“The convictions being overturned is very frustrating to the public and we don’t want to give elected officials the sense that they can do whatever they want and get away with it,” said Suozzi. “So, it’s important that we take action.”

The Supreme Court ruled that in order for an elected official to be convicted on charges of exchanging favors for official acts, the politician must vote on legislation, award a contract or pressure another party to award a contract.

The decision led to the overturning of a guilty verdict against former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who accepted more than $175,000 in gifts in exchange for promoting a dietary supplement.

It also led to Tuesday’s appeals court decision tossing the guilty verdicts against Skelos and his son Adam, after a jury decided the senator helped companies that paid his son for no-show and low-show jobs. Silver’s conviction for accepting more than $4 million in exchange for favors was overturned on the same grounds.

The ruling prompted outrage and calls for stricter laws.

“Hard working New Yorkers are getting screwed, paying into a system so corrupt politicians can enjoy six-figure pensions and walk free,” said Brandon Muir, executive director of Reclaim New York, a watchdog group.

“New Yorkers tired of living under the most corrupt state government in the country need to step up and demand reform in Albany,” he said. “And it might not hurt to send a dictionary to the Supreme Court.”

Rep. Thomas SuozziAP

Suozzi’s legislation would close the loophole that let the pols skate — at least for now — by expanding the definition of “official act” under federal law.

It would include any decision or action, including approval, disapproval, recommendation, rendering of advice, or investigation of any matter that could come before any public official in the course of their job.

The bill has bipartisan support.

“As a former FBI anti-corruption special agent who put politicians from both parties behind bars, I saw…

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