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One legislative leader has already banned his outside income

New York Sen. Jeff Klein (D-Bronx) at a

New York Sen. Jeff Klein (D-Bronx) at a rally in support of charter schools outside the Capitol in Albany on Wednesday, March 4, 2015. Credit: Hans Pennink

ALBANY - As Attorney General Eric Schneiderman pushes to ban outside employment of legislators as invitations to conflicts of interest, one legislative leader has already done it.

Sen. Jeff Klein (D-Bronx) said he ended his role in a law firm this year, costing him up to $50,000 a year he reported on his annual ethics forms.

“There is clearly an ethical crisis of mammoth proportions and I think we have to action right now to restore the public’s trust,” said Klein, head of the Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference, in a recent interview.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s ethics proposal would require more disclosure about how legislators earn their outside income, their clients and more precise accounting of their pay. Schneiderman said that’s not bold enough and on Monday night called for a ban.

"Outside employment income must be banned ... it is impossible to avoid conflicts -- or the appearance of conflicts -- if legislators have outside employment," Schneiderman said. "The time has come to end it."

Newsday on Sunday reported on the outside job of Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) in which he legally makes up to $250,000 for being part of a law firm whose lobbying arm lobbies Albany. Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) was indicted this year on charges that he used his private law practice to collect millions of dollars in kickbacks and bribes for his official action.

On Long Island, 13 of the 31 legislators, including Skelos and Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport) also work as lawyers, according to a review of their required ethics filings by Newsday in January. In all, 41 of 213 state legislators reported outside income in their ethics filings, according to a study by the New York Public Interest Research Group.


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