Outside income report signals tough choice for some state lawmakers


Legislative Gazette file photo

A leading good government group has released an analysis of state legislators who earn additional income in other jobs, a practice that will be drastically changed when new rules go into effect next year.

The report on lawmakers’ outside income includes the names of the 10 highest earners with Sen. George Amedore, Assemblyman Stephen Hawley and Sen. Andrew Lanza topping the list.

For decades, lawmakers have been able to earn uncapped, supplementary outside income in addition to their base salary of $79,500. Starting in 2020, the base salary will be raised to $120,000, but in exchange, a cap will be placed on outside income, or even an outright ban, depending on the profession.

The highest earner on this list is Senator George Amedore who generated an estimate of $687,500 in 2017 through his real estate and construction businesses. Amedore, however, is an outlier on the list and the reported income begins to taper down quickly.

Assemblyman Stephen Hawley in the second slot generates an estimated $412,500 operating in insurance and real estate and Senator Andrew Lanza follows generating an average of $212,500 through two separate law business.

Common Cause/NY reviewed the 2017 Financial Disclosure Statements found on the NY State Joint Commission on Public Ethics website. Data from 209 disclosure forms were migrated from individual PDF documents to an excel spreadsheet for analysis.

The outside income for state legislators must be estimated because lawmakers only have to report income ranges, not a specific income. So in actuality, Amedore made anywhere between $575,000 and $800,000; Hawley between $355.000 and $475,000; and Lanza between $155,000 and $270,000.


The highlights of the Common cause analysis shows:

  • 33.7 percent of returning state legislators reported outside income, most of which will be banned by 2020 and they must divest over the next year.
  • 49.1 percent of returning Republican state legislators have outside income, while 26.3% of returning Democratic state legislators have outside income.
  • 56 percent of returning state legislators with outside income represent downstate districts.
  • 35 percent, or 45 of 129 returning Assembly members, have outside income.

“It’s common practice for Albany lawmakers to take second or even third jobs to earn extra money — and execute power — while working on the taxpayers’ dime. But not anymore,” said Susan Lerner, the executive director of Common Cause/NY. “Lawmakers deserve a raise, and New Yorkers deserve elected officials who work only for them. End of story.”

Other lawmakers rounding out the top ten list include:

  • Assemblywoman Rebecca Seaweright at $200,00;
  • Assemblyman David Weprin at $128,000;
  • Assemblyman William Barclay at $125,500;
  • Assemblyman Michael Norris at $125,000;
  • Assemblyman Philip Steck at $125,000;
  • Assemblyman Clyde Vanel at $125,000; and
  • Sen. Thomas O’Mara at $125,000.

Last year the 2018 Compensation Commission recommended a ban on income earned through certain professions and a cap of up to 15 percent on certain permissible outside income from select professions.