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Report Analyzes NYS Legislators' Personal Finances

Emily Conwell, flickr

A few New York state lawmakers from the Hudson Valley rank high on a list of state legislators’ personal finances. In fact, a Westchester assemblywoman is number one for household income. The new report from good government groups is a first, and shows several lawmakers are making their money outside the legislative chambers.

The report compiled by Common Cause New York, the New York Public Interest Research Group or NYPIRG, and The New York World is based on information legislators filed with the Legislative Ethics Commission and Joint Commission on Public Ethics earlier this year. Under provisions of the 2011 ethics reform law, legislators were, for the first time, required to disclose detailed information relating to the actual value of outside income and investments. Bill Mahoney is research coordinator at NYPIRG.

The report shows that, on average, New York lawmakers’ income is significantly higher than the state population’s. In 2012, the median legislator’s household income was between $137,000 and $172,000 while the median New York State household income was shy of $57,000.  The household incomes of Democratic Assemblymember Amy Paulin, with a range from $2.2 million to $2.6 million; and Republican Assemblymember Jane Corwin, with a range from $1.8 million to $2.1 million were the highest for 2012. Rounding out the top five are Democratic Assemblymember Didi Barrett, from the mid-Hudson Valley, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, and Democratic Senator John Sampson. As NYPIRG’s Mahoney points out, much in outside assets comes from law, real estate, and investments.

When it comes to the largest household net worth, Corwin, of Clarence in western New York, tops the list, with a range from about $40 million to $74 million. Paulin, from Westchester’s tony Scarsdale, occupies the number-two spot with a range of about $18 million to $34 million.

He explains that Paulin reported a number of holdings belonging to her and her spouse in the highest, uncapped category, meaning their holdings, which are theoretically unlimited, were capped at more than $34 million.  Other Hudson Valley lawmakers on the list are Republican Senator John Bonacic, at No. 5, with net worth ranging from $5 million to $7 million. Nos. 13 and 14 are Assemblymembers Didi Barrett and Frank Skartados, a Democrat, both with up to more than $3 million.

NYPIRG’s Mahoney says one conference is wealthier than the rest.

In addition, the report shows that, on average, Republicans serving in the Legislature and their spouses have nearly twice as much in reported assets as Democrats.

Mahoney says the report could prove useful to constituents in the following ways.

He says some of the figures for the Hudson Valley are due to the relative wealth of the region.

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