McLaughlin, Tedisco, Fitzpatrick to Introduce New Law Banning State Employeesfrom Personally Benefiting From Official Travel Perks And Any Other Financial Gain
Assemblymen want to stop elected officials and state employees from cashing in on frequent flier travel miles, free hotel stays gained as a result of taxpayer-funded official state travel
Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin (R,C,I-Melrose), Assemblyman Jim Tedisco (R,C,I-Glenville) and Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick (R,C,I-Smithtown) today announced new legislation to prohibit New York’s elected officials and other state employees from pocketing free airfare and luxurious hotel stays as a result of frequent flier/travel reward points gained from taxpayer-funded travel.
McLaughlin, Tedisco and Fitzpatrick’s legislation, which is being drafted, would require all benefits gained by state employees from conducting official duties, such as frequent flier points, hotel travel rewards, and car rental discounts, to be banked to reduce future taxpayer costs for state travel and not for personal gain.
It’s been reported that NYS Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) may have earned up to 205,000 frequent flier miles – enough for a trip around the world – from his weekly commute from Albany back to New York City, via air travel to Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia.
“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,” said McLaughlin. “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 legislation Assemblyman Tedisco and I are drafting will put a stop to state employees and elected officials from gaining travel, hotel and car rental incentives at taxpayer expense and is critical in continuing to restore trust in state government that has been dwindling for years.”
“Frequent flier miles for state travel should be banked to lower costs for taxpayers, not pocketed by politicians for personal travel clubs,” said Tedisco. “In these challenging economic times, when state government is supposed to be reining-in unnecessary spending and asking people to do more with less, taxpayer-funded air travel should be rare. When air travel is absolutely necessary and when it passes the smell test of good and ethical government, the only ones who should benefit from accrued frequent flier miles, hotel discounts and other perks are the taxpayers who are paying the tab for the trips in the form of reduced costs for future state travel related to official taxpayer business,” said Tedisco.
“It just makes sense to have travel rewards earned from travel expenses reimbursed by New York taxpayers applied toward reducing the burden on state taxpayers,” said Fitzpatrick.
“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,” said Tedisco.
This drive to get the most bang for the taxpayer’s buck is similar to the legislators’ call for the “Used Resources Accountability Act” for state government to sell used resources such as vehicles, computers, equipment and furniture on e-Bay and craigslist which the Governor turned into NYSstore.com.