ALBANY - State Senator Betty Little and most of her Republican colleagues stood behind Gov. David Paterson Monday and effectively killed the Democratic Senate majority's attempt to override last week's veto of the controversial ethics reform bill.
A two-thirds majority is required to override a gubernatorial veto - and with only 35 votes in favor, the senate Democratic leadership fell seven votes short of achieving its goal.
Little, who originally voted for the bill's passage two-weeks ago, said Monday she believes that there is some good in the now dead-ethics bill, but said it wasn't as stringent or effective as it needed to be.
"Since its initial passage two weeks ago, there has been universal agreement that it doesn't go far enough. I've never seen legislation so widely, yet so unenthusiastically, supported by lawmakers," Little said. "Voters are hungry for something transformative, not half of a loaf of half-baked reform."
An overwhelming 31 of 32 Democrats supported the override joined by Republicans Roy McDonald, Hugh Farley, Frank Padavan and Joseph Robach.
Ruben Diaz was the only Democrat to support Paterson's veto.
And almost immediately after the early-evening vote, Majority Conference Leader John Sampson hammered the minority party and its support of the governor.
"For the second time in six months, Senate Republicans have killed ethics reform in Albany," Sampson said. "They have once again asked New Yorkers to do as I say and forget what I do, while special interests have tightened their stranglehold on Albany."
Paterson had promised to veto the legislation prior to its Jan. 20 passage. He called it "election year window dressing" because it did not create independent oversight commissions composed of non-legislators.
Republicans argued that with the state Senate in Democratic control, ethics commissions composed of legislators would be a breeding ground for anti-Republican witch-hunts.
The bill would have required greater disclosure of campaign donors with an aim to curb widespread pay-to-play politics.
Along with GOP legislators, Paterson hammered on what the legislation would have exempted from oversight, like a clause that would have exempted legislators, who are also attorneys, from divulging their incomes outside the Senate.
Senate Democrats argued that requiring the disclosure of such information violates the attorney-client privilege.
Paterson and his new GOP allies have promised to introduce new ethics legislation that closes the loopholes within the next few weeks.
And for Little, the death of the ethics bill presents an opportunity.
"Now that the override has been upheld, we have a chance to negotiate openly and in a bipartisan manner," she said. "The manner in which this override attempt was rushed through today speaks volumes about a political process that isn't known for expediency."
The veto override breezed through the Assembly with little dissent.
As recent as last week, Senate Democrats were confident that they had the votes to successfully override the veto.