Spin Cycle

News, views and commentary on Long Island, state and national politics.

ALBANY - (Updates to reflect that Gov. Cuomo's filing was posted in May)

The latest ethics filings show some legislators are making their private roles in law firms clearer, while others have dropped their private sector jobs after prosecutors started looking closely at such potential conflicts of interest.

The May 15 filings were posted Thursday afternoon by the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics also showed. Legislators have until Dec. 31 to shed clients or to start identifying any that have business before the state.

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Legislators have until Dec. 31 to shed clients or to start identifying any that have business before the state.

Senate Health Committee Chairman Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City) had one of the most expansive commentaries in the latest filings:

"I am neither a partner nor a shareholder. I do not provide direct service to clients," his form read. "I advise and counsel the firm and its lawyers on a range of matters including administrative and organization aspects of the firm. None of my endeavors are billed to clients."

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Former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) and former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) were indicted this year on corruption cases. They each maintained jobs with private law firms and that dual role and the potential for conflicts of interest have drawn the attention of federal prosecutors. Silver had collected more than $650,000 a year and Skelos had reported making as much as $250,000 a year from a law firm.

Silver's form included: "Given proceedings in federal court, it is inappropriate to answer this question, however, this answer will be amended upon completion of the proceedings."

The new Senate majority leader, Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport), resigned from the law firm of Forchelli, Curto, Deegan, Schwartz, Mineo & Terrana after he was chosen to lead the chamber. Flanagan said he quit the job that paid him up to $150,000 a year because the majority leader job required all his attention. 

Sen. Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) left his job at a law firm last month. LaValle said he left Twomey, Latham, Shea, Kelley, Dubin & Quartararo, a Riverhead law firm, because founding partner Thomas A. Twomey died last fall. LaValle had been paid $75,000 to $100,000 annually by the firm.

Assemb. Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor) said he left the same firm in December. He had made up to $20,000 a year before he resigned because he said he didn't have enough time to devote to the work.

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"I think as elected officials we have a position of public trust," Thiele said in a recent interview. "I think the standard is different for us, and I think it should be."

On Long Island, 13 of the 31 legislators worked as lawyers, according to a review by Newsday in January (http://nwsdy.li/1HXqSp7).

In May, the filings showed that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo reported that his latest royalties for his memoir, "All Things Possible," provided him $350,000 to $450,000 last year. The book was published by HarperCollins, part of Rupert Murdoch's media empire.