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State Senator Sampson latest in string of corruption arrests

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Albany/HV: State Senator Sampson latest in string of corruption arrests
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This isn't the first indictment of a powerful New York lawmaker. Capital Tonight's Nick Reisman has more on the trouble at the top.

ALBANY, N.Y. -- “In Albany, it really is true that the more power people get, the more influence they have over huge pots of money and the ability to steer certain interests towards different senators that are looking for help. So just by being in that position of power, they have more opportunities to get into trouble,” said NYPIRG Researcher Bill Mahoney.

The cases of Senate leaders facing corruption trouble begins with Republican Joe Bruno, whose theft of honest services charge was overturned by the Supreme Court, but he faces a new trial. Democrat Pedro Espada was found guilty of siphoning millions from his non-profit, while Senator Malcolm Smith was arrested last month and charged with bribery. Senate Democrats distance themselves from both Espada and Smith, part of a majority that served for only one term.

Senator Terry Gipson said, “It's a conference of many, many new elected officials, like myself, from the Hudson River Valley and upstate and it's really the new Democratic conference.”

Meanwhile, Governor Andrew Cuomo, in a radio interview, said the latest arrest bolstered his case for overhauling ethics laws and creating a system of publicly financed campaigns, a provision opposed by Senate Republicans.

Cuomo said, “We need election reform, we need campaign finance reform, we need public finance to get the money out of politics. So I think in some ways it provides more clarity.”

GOP lawmakers in the Senate on Tuesday will hold a hearing on the New York City public financing system and it's not expected to change many minds. Leading the hearing is Senator Tom O'Mara, who is opposed to public financing.

O'Mara said, “Your dollars, your taxes, may be going to fund someone's campaign who may have the complete opposite ideological views than you do and your dollars are going to support that. I don't think that's appropriate.”

Whether this latest corruption case to ensnare a member of the legislature will spur reform and whether Cuomo can push lawmakers to get what he wants, remains to be seen.

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