NY Post June 16, 2017 – The New York state Senate Ethics Committee marked a major accomplishment on Thursday: it met.
In its first sessions in eight years, member argued about whether the vice chairs of committees in the upper chamber deserve the bonuses they’re getting in addition to their $79,500 salaries. Critics say the bonuses are only supposed to go to actual committee chairs. After about an hour, the issue remained unresolved and was tabled for the next meeting. “We have no idea when that will be,” one Senate source said. “It could be next year. It could be eight years from now.”
The last time the committee met was in June 2009 when former Sen. John Sampson, a Brooklyn Democrat, was chair. He was convicted in 2015 of obstruction of justice and lying to federal agents about pocketing $440,000 from settlements when he served as a court-appointed referee in foreclosure proceedings. Sampson headed to prison last month to begin serving a five-year sentence.
During Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos’ corruption trial, also in 2015, Sen. Tony Avella (D-Queens) testified that he was chair of the committee for a while but was ousted when he tried to hold a hearing.
Legislative rules say committees must meet when bills are referred to them. None have been sent to the ethics panel since Sampson was chair. Thursday’s meeting lasted about an hour and, aside from the discussion of bonuses, mostly consisted of minor resolutions and a brief discussion on what a positive step the group had taken by finally meeting.