Moreland Commission looked at Hawley’s outside income

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 January 2015 at 12:00 am

Local assemblyman was found to not abuse office for financial gain

Photo by Tom Rivers – State Assemblyman Steve Hawley, R-Batavia, says he was one of 13 state legislators investigated by the Moreland Commission for outside income. Hawley, owner of an insurance company in Batavia, says he was cleared in the probe.

ALBION – State Assemblyman Steve Hawley says he was subpoenaed by the Moreland Commission, the state commission established to root out public corruption, about two years ago and forced to turn over business records from his insurance business in Batavia.

“There’s an old adage: ‘If you have nothing to hide, comply,'” Hawley said.

He turned over a list of clients, employees, family members, advertisements, political materials, income taxes and property taxes. It was an exhaustive collection of documents.

After three months of reviewing those records, to see if Hawley was making money in kickbacks or abusing his public office for financial gain, Hawley was cleared and found to not be misusing his office, he told about 75 people on Friday during a Legislative Luncheon at The Village Inn.

That wasn’t the case for the leader of the State Assembly. Sheldon Silver, speaker of the Assembly since 1994, on Thursday was accused of corruption by the U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. Silver was arrested on public corruption charges and accused of using his position to obtain $4 millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks.

Sheldon Silver

Bharara investigated Silver after Gov. Cuomo disbanded the Moreland Commission last March. Bharara said on Thursday more state officials could face corruption charges.

Hawley said he has strived to avoid any conflicts of interest in his 36 years in the insurance business. He has been asked to give insurance quotes for fire departments, school districts and municipalities, but has always declined.

Hawley and many of the Republican members of the State Assembly have called on Silver to resign. At the very least, Hawley said Silver should step down as Assembly speaker on a temporary basis until the case is resolved. The Assembly needs a leader to negotiate with Cuomo and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos about the budget, Hawley said.

“It’s a shame, a debacle, a travesty for the people of New York,” he said about Silver.

Hawley would like to see the top leadership positions in the State Legislature capped at 8 years. Silver has been in his post for more than two decades.

Hawley was surprised to see only two out of more than 100 Democrats in the State Assembly call on Silver to resign. Hawley said that is indicative of the iron-fisted rule Silver has over the Democrats in the Assembly.

State Sen. Rob Ortt addresses about 75 people at the Legislative Luncheon at The Village Inn on Friday.

State Sen. Rob Ortt, R-North Tonawanda, also addressed the Chamber of Commerce on Friday. Ortt said he will try to be an “antidote” to the corruption in the state capitol.

Ortt served as North Tonawanda mayor for five years until he was elected in November, succeeding George Maziarz. Ortt was a member of the National Guard and served a tour of duty in Afghanistan.

He said he will advocate for a streamlined state government with less red tape, regulations and taxes on businesses.

He also said he would work to bring more state resources to local governments that need revenue to keep up with roads, bridges and other government services.

Ortt has been named chairman of the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Committee. In that position, he said he will be an advocate for people with developmental disabilities and their families.

Many developmentally disabled residents are being cared for by their elderly parents. Ortt said the state needs to provide more resources to ensure developmentally disabled residents have safe places to live, especially when their parents can no longer care for them.

“They need a champion, a person of influence in Albany,” Ortt said.