Niagara Gazette — ALBANY — Filings from New York state legislators that are more extensive than ever before were publicly posted online Wednesday and showed powerful Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver earned $350,000 to $450,000 last year from his private law practice.
Silver, the longtime leader of the Assembly's Democratic majority, is listed as "of counsel" to the Weitz & Luxenberg law firm in Manhattan. His filing showed $1.75 million in retirement plans or trusts, a stock portfolio worth $878,000 to $2 million and a loan due back to him for $500,000 to $750,000 from Counsel Financial, which offers loans and credit to law firms with contingency fee practices. He reported having no clients for whom he handled state business since last July.
The disclosures filed by all 63 sitting state senators and 148 members of the Assembly for the first time show publicly the value of their outside financial interests. Also new is the required listing of clients or customers who pay legislators more than $10,000 in fees for services on state matters including proposed legislation, contracts, grants and at state agencies.
"These new disclosures represent a substantial leap in transparency for New York state as the curtain is pulled back on the values of our public officials' outside financial interests," Commission Chair Daniel Horwitz said. Forms filed by other state officials in policy positions are available by request from the Joint Commission on Public Ethics under the law passed two years ago.
Officials can face fines up to $40,000 for failure to file or deliberately false statements, according to the commission.
The governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and comptroller's disclosures were posted previously.
Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos, listed as "of counsel" to the Long Island law firm of Ruskin, Moscou & Faltischek, reported $150,000 to $250,000 of income from his private law practice, his wife getting a pension of $75,000 to $100,000 from the state retirement system, at least $450,000 combined in retirement accounts, and an investment portfolio worth $275,000 to $600,000.
Sen. Jeff Klein, head of the Independent Democratic Conference that shares Senate control in a coalition with Republicans, reported $58,000 to $110,000 of income as a partner in a Bronx law practice and college adjunct instructor. He listed no clients for state business, a state pension worth $250,000 to $500,000 and investments worth between $179,000 and $422,000.