Luke Martland isn't calling out incumbent Sen. Neil Breslin on any criminal charges, but he is asking him to return $125,000 worth of campaign contributions in order to cleanse himself ethically.
In the race for the 46th Senate District, Martland, an Albany attorney, held a press conference on Aug. 23 criticizing Breslin, D-Delmar, who is in his seventh term, for accepting donations from insurance companies.
Breslin is the chairman of the Senate Insurance committee.
This is an inherent conflict of interest, said Martland, who is challenging Breslin in the Democratic primary. "To me it is simple, if you are in charge of passing legislation that will determine how much a power industry makes in profit, you should not be accepting contributions from this industry."
Martland attributed Breslin's cash flow to what he refers to as the current "dysfunction" in New York state politics.
"Maybe this money doesn't have any influence on him," Martland added, "but if this is so, why do the insurance companies keep giving him more and more money."
While accepting money from insurances companies is not illegal, Martland contends it is unethical.
"Is it legal? Under current law, yes," he said. "Should it be legal? No. Is it ethical? No it is not."
If elected, Martland said he would introduce ethics legislation that would limit contributions from lobbying firms and other individuals, as well as require full disclosure of any outside income, including client lists submitted by legislators who are also attorneys.
"I think everyone who serves an elected position, a statewide office or member of the Assembly or member of the Senate, should have to release all sources of outside income, whether that's an outside job or investments, who their clients are and what they do for their clients," Martland said. " People have claimed that this is a violation of attorney-client privilege, and I have pointed out that it is not."