Thursday, September 26, 2013

Legislators desperately trying to hide sources of income

From the NY Times:

New York, like many other states, has a part-time Legislature; the 212 members get a base salary of $79,500, plus leadership bonuses and expenses. Now the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption, created by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and staffed with top-flight lawyers and prosecutors, has started asking about the private business deals lawmakers have kept hidden for decades.

Even where state law requires some minimal disclosure, legislators have made it hard to find the details. To take just one obstacle, lawmakers fill out disclosure forms by hand; when the form was posted on the Internet this summer, it took two public interest groups, Common Cause/NY and New York Public Interest Research Group; a newspaper, The New York World at Columbia University; and two interns working for two weeks to make sense of it all.

What they found merely whets the appetite for even greater disclosure. The Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver, made up to $920,000 for his work with a law firm and his investments; the Senate Republican leader, Dean Skelos, earned as much as $263,000 in legal work, investments and deferred compensation. All told, 115 of the 212 legislators earned income on the side.

Crucially, however, these raw numbers do not show in detail where that money comes from, and thus where the conflicts of interest may lie. Is this legal client pushing a particular piece of legislation? Is that insurance company seeking a tax exemption?


Anonymous said...

THIS IS A JOB FOR a/g/ERIC HOLDER. he knows where the skeletons and furious,benghazi,black panther vote scandal,nys/nys/pension scandal etc......oh ...I.R.S....he is the man for the job....

Anonymous said...

The best way to deal with legislators to follow sunshine laws would be for them to introduce and pass legislation with stiffer penalties for avoiding theses information requests. How about laws on the books allowing for recall. New York is one of the 30 states that does not have recall!