More than a week after State Senate candidate Luke Martland called on Senator Neil D. Breslin to fully disclose the amount of money he makes and who he represents at his second job at a union-busting and financial industry lobbying law firm, the Assistant Majority Leader has failed to respond.
Undeterred, Martland yesterday brought forth the issue again, and vowed to continue doing so until he succeeds in getting Albany County voters the full disclosure we deserve. One thing Martland's press releases never fail to do is hammer the secretive Senator while tying his attacks in with recent legislative events:
“Instead of caring about New York’s families that are suffering pay cuts and job losses, Breslin is more interested in hiding his pay increases and multiple side clients. If only working families were as important to him as his secret clients, maybe the state budget would get passed and the furloughs avoided.”
- Luke Martland, Democratic candidate for New York State Senate, 46th District
Breslin's response to last week's inquiry from Martland was to shrug it off entirely. One supposes he was too busy authoring a resolution condemning the very furloughs he himself voted for. Perhaps the Senator considers himself so untouchable that Martland and his press releases might simply go away...
...but that clearly isn't going to happen. Luke Martland has been good about backing up his request with evidence to thwart Breslin's bogus claim that such disclosures are unnecessary. He cites a January finding by the Association of the Bar of the City of New York which came to the following conclusion:
“...all lawmakers, including attorney-legislators, should be required to disclose information about their sources of outside income, including the identity of their clients, their fees and a clear description of the services rendered.”
Emphasis mine - SP
Not content to simply cite a Bar Association report, Martland follows the perennial "rule of three" to further bunker his demands. He cites last Friday's Times Union editorial which echoed his own opinion, saying that all Senators should "be subject to full disclosure of their sources of income and actual or potential conflicts...which they have for too long refused to do." Additionally, he reminds us of what U.S. District Court Judge Gary Sharpe told disgraced former Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno in court: “Why is anybody worried about disclosure? Disclosure gets rid of the entire problem of conflict. How can there be a conflict if you’ve disclosed? That’s the whole function of disclosure. Let the public know...And then they can make their own judgments.”
I find it refreshing to see a State Senate candidate leading by example, as Martland has already released all his tax and income information of his own volition. And I say three cheers to Luke Martland for reminding the entrenched Senator of the lessons all legislators should be taking away from the recent conviction and sentencing of Uncle Joe.
"I believe in leadership by example," Luke Martland told me the first time I met him. It's also what Luke Martland says directly to Senator Breslin in a letter dated May 6th, which was also released to the press yesterday.
Interested? The letter is quoted in full below the fold.
The ball is in Breslin's court on this one. Stay tuned to see if all he does is keep dribbling.
(Cross-posted on The Albany Project)
Below is the full text of the letter Luke Martland sent to Sen. Breslin.
May 6, 2010
Senator Neil Breslin
Assistant Majority Leader on Conference Operations
502 Capitol Albany, New York 12247
Dear Assistant Majority Leader Breslin,
On Monday, May 3, 2010, I gave to the press copies of my state and federal income tax returns for 2009, my W-2, and a dividend form. The only information that I redacted from those forms was my social security number, my bank account number, and the street address of my home. I have also promised that, if elected, I will not have any outside job (in order to be completely free of any potential conflicts of interest) and to release my tax returns and W-2 every year.
I released my tax information because I believe that the voters have a right to know how much a candidate earns, and how he or she earned it. I believe that the voters have an equal right to know how much a Senator earns, and how he or she earned it. This includes a right to a full disclosure of any outside job(s) or sources of income, and any resulting potential conflicts of interest.
When I released my own tax information I requested that you do three things. First, follow my example and also release your 2009 tax returns and reveal your salary from your second job at the law firm Hiscock and Barclay. Second, reveal your client list so that the voters can know if there are any potential conflicts of interest. Third, reveal your time records so that the voters will know what general services you provided to these clients, and know when you are working at the law firm, as opposed to working on Senate duties.
Senator, you have so far not responded to any of these requests or released any of this information. As Assistant Majority Leader of the New York State Senate and Chairperson of the Senate Insurance Committee, you are one of the most powerful and influential people in State Government. Yet, you also work simultaneously at Hiscock and Barclay, and you have so far refused to reveal your specific salary or your clients. Without the release of your tax information and client list it is nearly impossible for the public to know if there are any potential conflicts of interest from the clients that you represent at Hiscock and Barclay.
As I am sure you know, this information is not covered by the attorney-client privilege. In January 2010 the Association of the Bar of the City of New York issued a report on “Reforming New York State’s Financial Disclosure Requirements for Attorney-Legislators.” In that report the Bar Association noted that under existing law the identity of an attorney’s clients and amount of income are not confidential and are subject to disclosure. The Bar Association also stated in its conclusion that “...all lawmakers, including attorney-legislators, should be required to disclose information about their sources of outside income, including the identity of their clients, their fees and a clear description of the services rendered.”
This is the exactly the same information that I am requesting that you release: 1) your outside income, including at your law firm, 2) the identity of your clients, and 3) time sheets or some other clear description of the services your provided to those clients. Not only do voters have a right to know this information, but, if there are no conflicts of interest then I fail to see how releasing this information would be a problem.
I want to make clear that I am only asking you to do what I have already done. I believe in leadership by example. As a result, I first released my tax returns and W-2, which reveal all of my sources of income for 2009 (which consisted of my state salary and approximately $40 in interest that I earned from one investment). I do not have, and did not have, any second job or outside source of income. I do not have, and did not have, any outside clients. Therefore, I have already released all of the information that I am requesting that you disclose. I look forward to your response.
Since we're on the topic of "show me the money," I think it's time I started doing this:
Donate to Luke Martland for State Senate.