Nine out of 10 New York voters think corruption is a serious problem in New York and eight out of 10 believe more state legislators will be arrested, according to a new poll released today by the Siena Research Institute. Thirty-five percent said their own Assembly member could be arrested, and 30 percent said their senator could be arrested, the poll found.
“Clearly, the recent arrests have eroded confidence in the Legislature,” Siena College pollster Steven Greenburg said in a statement. “In fact, voters are closely divided with 50 percent saying most legislators are ‘honest and law-abiding’ and 47 percent saying most ‘cannot be trusted.”
Sen. Malcolm Smith, D-Queens, is scheduled to be arraigned tomorrow on charges he tried to buy his way onto the GOP ballot in this year’s New York City mayoral election. Others arrested in connection with the alleged scheme include Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin, Deputy Mayor Joseph Desmaret, New York City Councilman Daniel Halloran and two New York City Republican officials.
Assemblyman Eric Stevenson, D-Bronx, was arrested and charged the same week in a separate case in which he allegedly accepted bribes to help developers of an adult day-care facility.
“While 60 percent hope the arrests a few weeks ago are a big step in cleaning up the system, 39 percent said they were not surprised since ‘a lot of politicians are crooks,'” Greenburg said.
Voters are divided on whether its more important to focus on law enforcement (45 percent) or the electoral process (46 percent) in fighting corruption, according to the poll. More than a quarter of voters said federal prosecutors (29 percent) and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (27 percent) should take the lead in trying to clean up corruption in the state Legislature. Eighteen percent said Gov. Andrew Cuomo should take the lead, 10 percent said it should be county district attorneys and 10 percent said the Legislature itself.
Eighty-two percent of voters said there should be legislative term limits, 55 percent said candidates should be limited to one party line on the ballot. Fifty-four percent said serving in the Legislature should be a full-time job, rather than the current part-time position, that lawmakers should be prohibited from holding outside jobs and that their salaries should be increased accordingly.
The governor’s favorability rating is 62-33 percent, down from 64-30 percent last month and 72-21 percent in December, the poll found.
On casino gambling, 49 percent of voters said they back a constitutional amendment to allow non-Indian casinos in the state, and 44 percent opposed it.
The telephone poll of 811 registered voters was conducted April 14-18. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.