Monday, October 22, 2012
They tweed in their own homes as well
From the NY Post:
When politicians snooze, taxpayers don’t just lose — their cash goes to support legislators’ real-estate investments.
New York lawmakers who sleep over in their own Albany-area second homes rake in $165 a night if they claim they must stay over for official business.
Under the Legislature’s loose “per diem” reimbursement system — for which no receipts or other proof are required — Assembly members and state senators who own houses or condos near the Capitol collect the same payments as those who stay in hotels.
Those who have bought their own pads say it’s only fair.
Taxpayer support for their real-estate investments is just one more item in legislators’ goodie bag — and has helped boost Assembly and Senate travel and per-diem expenses to more than $32 million over the last decade.
Gov. Cuomo may push to end the per diems in return for a legislative pay raise, aides say.
“I’m not in the business of collecting per diems to supplement my income,” said Assemblyman Michael DenDekker (D-Queens), who claimed a total $32,434 in stipends in 2010 and 2011.
Since 2003, he has owned a two-family house near the Capitol worth about $195,000. He rented out each unit for $800 a month and stayed in hotels while in Albany on legislative duties.
But last year a deal to sell the house collapsed, and DenDekker couldn’t find a second tenant. So he moved in Jan. 1 for the Legislative session.
“I’d rather get year-round income off the apartment,” he said.
State Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-Queens), elected in 2000, said he recently sold a house valued at $190,000 in adjacent Rensselaer County, He bought it 25 years ago for vacations, then rentals.
When in Albany, he always stays in hotels or with family, said Smith, who collected $38,139 in per diems in 2010 and 2011.