The ever-inquisitive Albany Times-Union — the paper that successfully forced the legislature to cough up its pork barrel secrets three years ago — has a new target: lawmakers’ total income.
The T-U sent letters to each state legislator at the end of December asking them to voluntarily detail their income, including outside earnings by themselves and their spouses. Only a third responded, reports the T-U’s James Odato. And many of those balked at revealing specifics about what their significant others take in.
As Odato puts it, this reluctance on the part of more than two-thirds of the legislature came despite passage last week of a sweeping new ethics bill.
Lawmakers must currently report earnings and holdings on public disclosure statements – but broad income categories are redacted. The new bill – which Governor Paterson says doesn’t go far enough – would expand the income categories and make them public.
The Times-Union has posted all the responses it received. As expected, most of those giving up their income secrets are the ones who – as Mike Bloomberg put it back in 2001 when he was first pressed to reveal his own princely income – “don’t make any money.”
Among the responses was this straight-forward comment from Michael Benjamin, the Bronx assemblyman: “I’m not comfortable sharing my personal financial data with a journalist. I file my ethics form yearly and on time. For the record, I do not have any outside income or hold outside employment. While I have sought permissible outside employment, I have been unsuccessful.”