Filings show how state lawmakers make money
CAPITOL Last year, Cecilia Tkaczyk made between $5,000 and $20,000 producing wool and yarn from sheep she tends on a small farm in Delanson.
This fun fact about the freshman state senator from Duanesburg was just one detail that emerged from more than 200 financial filings from state legislators that were disclosed on the website of the state’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics. The disclosures, which are more extensive than anything published online before, document outside income, securities, property holdings and other personal financial information from legislators.
The disclosure from Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, was long awaited and revealed that he earned $350,000 to $450,000 last year from his private law practice. The longtime leader of the Assembly’s Democratic majority is listed as “of counsel” to the Weitz & Luxenberg law firm in Manhattan but reported having no clients for whom he handled state business since last July.
Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos, R-Rockville Centre, is listed as “of counsel” to the Long Island law firm of Ruskin, Moscou & Faltischek and reported $150,000 to $250,000 of income from his private law practice. Co-Senate Majority Leader Sen. Jeff Klein, D-Bronx, reported $58,000 to $110,000 of income as a partner in a Bronx law practice, listing no clients for state business.
JCOPE Chairman Daniel Horwitz characterized the new disclosure as a leap in transparency. Disclosures for statewide officials, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo, were posted earlier this year on the site. Fines up to $40,000 can be levied for a failure to file the disclosure or for deliberately filing a false statement.
As an advisory board member to Community Bank N.A., state Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, makes between $20,000 and $50,000. A spokesman for the senator did not respond to an email seeking comment about his work for the bank.
Seward is also a director of Pathfinder Village, a home for people who have Down syndrome, and serves as a trustee for the Glimmerglass Opera. According to his disclosure, he receives no money for either service.
According to the filing of state Sen. Kathy Marchione, R-Halfmoon, she and her husband own four properties aside from her primary residence. The additional properties include a small piece of land in the town of Providence that currently just has an old garage on it.
“My husband and I purchased the property because it was a nice, quiet place where we could all gather together — children, grandchildren and extended family — for a family summer vacation,” she said in a statement.
The filing of Assemblyman Peter Lopez, R-Schoharie, revealed that he has a busy life outside of the Assembly, as he’s involved with eight organizations in Schoharie County, including the Boy Scouts, youth soccer, an adventure club and a main street committee. He is also the director of the music ministry at a church in Middleburgh.
Lopez also received between $1,000 and $5,000 last year as part of a class action lawsuit involving a defective state exam he took about 20 years ago. “Apparently, they won it,” he said of the suit, which will net him about $1,000 a year for four years.
In his private legal practice last year, Assemblyman Tony Jordan, R-Jackson, augmented his public salary with an additional $75,000 to $100,000. Assemblyman Phil Steck, D-Colonie, who joined the Assembly this year, made between $150,000 and $250,000 as an attorney in private practice last year. He still works as a private attorney.
The disclosure from state Sen. Hugh Farley, R-Niskayuna, showed some pride in his district, as he has $50,000 to $75,000 worth of stock in Trustco, which is headquartered there.
The only major revelation in the disclosure from Assemblyman James Tedisco, R-Glenville, is that his wife runs Yuupon, a travel website.