Dogged by federal investigations into state deals that seem specially tailored to make his donors rich, and perpetually whiffing on meaningful ethics reforms, Governor Andrew Cuomo boasted yesterday that he is going to slay the Goliath of Citizens United.

"Campaigns have become more and more dominated by money," Cuomo said during a press conference at Fordham University Law School. "Now, not only must a person have money to compete on the political stage, but if you can’t afford the price of admission, you can’t even get into the audience. Unless you make a significant contribution, your voice is no more than a whisper in the political process."

In flowery terms, Cuomo described a citizenry distrustful of government following the Supreme Court decision that opened the floodgates of corporate spending on campaigns, and pledged to clamp down on supposedly independent campaign funds coordinating with candidates. He proposed to do this through clarification from Governor's Office lawyer Alphonso David for regulators, specifying what actions to look at when considering whether independent campaigns are operating in tandem with candidates, and putting forward legislation to require disclosure of such groups' personnel.

The thing is, this would have very little effect on New York politics. As Politico New York's Jimmy Vielkind wrote, "Governor Cuomo is about to score a routine layup on government reform and sell it as a half-court buzzer beater." The site notes that this is the fourth time in five years that Cuomo has targeted independent expenditure committees, "even though they account for a bit less than 7 percent of the money in state politics."

The limited role of independent campaign groups, according to the site:

[is] likely because of the numerous other avenues donors who want to give a lot of money to can take that are much easier than creating their own committee. The state’s contribution limits are the highest in the nation among the 38 states that impose any limits at all, and these are easy to circumvent if somebody wants to give through limited liability companies or to political parties’ housekeeping accounts. Cuomo, for example, benefited from over $2 million from just one donor in the last cycle, none of which went through a registered Super PAC.

Nevertheless, the governor managed to wring a bit of measured praise out of the good-government group Citizens Union. The organization's director Dick Dadey called Cuomo's proposals "a welcome salve," but devoted much of a statement on the proposal to what it leaves out, namely, the substantive anti-corruption measures political observers have been demanding for years.

"While this is a solution that may have resonance with all of us concerned about the corrupting influence of money on our political system, it should not distract from the more immediate task at hand of addressing the crime wave of corruption in Albany," Dadey said in a statement. "In the closing days of the legislative session, greater focus and attention needs to be paid to preventing corruption in our state capital by limiting the outside income of our state lawmakers and closing the LLC loopholes that allow business entities to be treated as individuals, allowing money from one single source to flood our campaign finance system."

With a week left in the legislative session, the prospect of any reform that might have inhibited the kind of pay-to-play corruption that netted prison sentences for Cuomo's former colleagues Dean Skelos and Sheldon Silver seems dim indeed. Term limits, a ban on outside employment, a ban on former politicos working as lobbyists, and limits on contributions from contract-seekers and LLC surrogates—none are on the table.

Already this year, Cuomo has stepped back from anti-corruption measures he pledged to enact during his January State of the State address. In that speech, he said he would push for closing the LLC loophole, limiting outside income for legislators, strengthening the Freedom of Information Law, stripping politicians convicted of corruption of their pensions, and implementing public financing of campaigns. Numerous LLC bills have died in the state legislature, including one this spring, stymied by Senate Republicans whose leader John Flanagan called focus on the LLC loophole "a red herring that fails to fundamentally address the root cause of the problems that exist within our campaign finance system."

Late last month, Cuomo introduced eight bills that propose various levels of LLC fundraising reform, but they are probably relegated to the same fate in the Republican-controlled Senate. That leaves only pension forfeiture for politicians convicted of corruption, which could actually happen.

And of course, there's what Cuomo proposed yesterday, which his office called the "Nation's Strongest Protections to Combat Citizens United."

"The Legislature wants to say [it] can be trusted," Cuomo said. "There’s no better way to do it than to pass real reform that makes a real difference in ethics and takes on the number one challenge in this nation, which is Citizens United. Until you fix that, you fix nothing."