Several GOP Assembly members who don’t think elected officials and state employees should get to “cash in” on frequent-flier miles are introducing legislation that would prohibit them from pocketing free airfare and luxurious hotel stays as a result of points earned during taxpayer-funded travel.
Under the bill, which is being drafted, all benefits gained — such as frequent-flier points, hotel travel rewards and car rental discounts — would be banked to offset future taxpayer costs for state travel.
The Assembly members — Jim Tedisco of Schenectady; Steve McLaughlin of Melrose, Rensselaer County; and Michael Fitzpatrick of Smithtown, Suffolk County — cited a report in the New York Post last month that said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, may have earned up to 205,000 frequent-flier miles during his weekly commutes between New York City and Albany. That number of miles is enough for a trip around the world, the Republicans said.
“Many New Yorkers are struggling to put food on the table for their children each night, yet the speaker of the Assembly is flying high with our tax dollars and apparently earning bonus miles for personal trips,” McLaughlin said in a statement. “For an individual worth millions of dollars, the last thing Speaker Silver should be doing is arrogantly taking advantage of state taxpayers by racking up free airline trips at their expense.
The benefits should be used to reduce costs for taxpayers, “not pocketed by politicians for personal travel clubs,” Tedisco said in a statement.
“The bottom line of this legislation is to place into state law a prohibition on any state elected official or worker gaining financially through the policies in place as it relates to the use of taxpayer dollars to fulfill their defined duties,” he said.
(AP file photo of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.)