In today’s NY Daily News, Albany bureau chief Ken Lovett writes:
With the feds apparently taking a closer look at the travel expenses claimed by state lawmakers, one government reformer says it’s time to rein in the system. “The system cries out for an overhaul,” said Blair Horner of the New York Public Interest Research Group.
Lawmakers receive a flat $172 for hotel and food for each day they are in Albany. But they do not have to provide backup material to prove they were there in order to get reimbursed.
“There’s enough examples that exist that shows the honor system is not good enough,” Horner said.The FBI recently raided the Albany and district offices of Assemblyman William Scarborough (D-Brooklyn) and asked him about some of his per diem expenses. Scarborough, who has not been charged, said he was also asked to rat out other lawmakers who may be involved wrongdoing.
In addition to being convicted on bribery charges this year, former Assemblyman William Boyland (D-Brooklyn) was also found to have put in for $70,000 in false per diem reimbursements.In 2013, the 150-member Assembly paid out more than $1.4 million in per diems, according to figures provided by the state Controller’s Office. The 63-member Senate dished out another $646,596.
A good portion of that was for travel to Albany that took place after the legislative session ended in June, records show.