ALBANY -- Taking aim at Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, three Republican lawmakers announced a bill Wednesday that would ban lawmakers from accumulating frequent flier miles while traveling on state time.
The proposal would mandate that any frequent flier miles a lawmaker earns on trips related to official duties would be used to reduce future travel expenses, rather than being used for personal gain.
Assemb. Michael Fitzpatrick (R-St. James) said the proposal is directed at Silver (D-Manhattan), who has led the Assembly for two decades, because "the Speaker is the only one who flies [to Albany] as far as I know."
"If you have travel expenses that are being reimbursed by the state, this is the right thing to do," said Fitzpatrick, who noted that he drives back-and-forth to Albany from Suffolk County when the legislature is in session.
The bill is co-sponsored by two other Republicans, including Assemb. Steve McLaughlin (R-Schaghticoke), a former airline pilot who is mulling a run for governor.
Silver routinely flies back-and-forth from New York City to Albany to preside over the Assembly, a spokesman confirmed. Some reports have speculated that Silver could have earned hundreds of thousands of frequent flier miles during his 19-year tenure as Speaker.
Silver aide Michael Whyland declined to say whether Silver accumulates personal travel perks by flying and to comment on the Republican proposal. Instead, Whyland limited his remarks to: "Speaker Silver complies with the law" regarding travel expenses.
Previously, Whyland has defended Silver's air travel as more efficient than infrequent direct flights to Albany.
Fitzpatrick and McLaughlin also have called on Silver to donate any frequent flier miles accrued on state-reimbursed travel to an airline program that provides trips for critically ill children.
Their bill would face long odds in the overwhelmingly Democratic Assembly.
"We'll see," Fitzpatrick said. "We put it out there. You hoist up the flag and see who salutes."