NY Republicans are suing to keep their outside income. Here’s how much they make.

Republican state lawmakers, some of whom make big bucks in their second jobs, are arguing a $35,000 cap is unconstitutional.

Assembly Member Steve Hawley makes up to $445,000 in outside income.

Assembly Member Steve Hawley makes up to $445,000 in outside income. New York Assembly

Nearly a dozen Republican lawmakers are suing to keep their outside income, and some of them stand to lose far more than their recent legislative pay raise.

The state Legislature passed legislation in December 2022 that raised state senators’ and Assembly members’ salaries to $142,000 from $110,000. The raises went into effect on Jan. 1, making New York legislators the highest paid state legislators in the nation.

The pay raise also came with a cap on outside income. The measure, meant to curb corruption, did not sit well with a number of lawmakers. Starting in 2025, members of the state Legislature won’t be allowed to make more than $35,000 from other jobs they may hold. In response, 10 sitting lawmakers filed a federal lawsuit to block the raise and income cap, arguing that it’s unconstitutional and disenfranchises voters.

Of the 10 plaintiffs, as many as nine could see their outside income slashed as a result of the pay raise, according to state financial disclosure filings, making the suit as personal as it is professional for them.

Assembly Member Steve Hawley stands to lose the most, with up to $445,000 in outside income in 2022. He defended his nearly half-million-dollar outside salary as evidence that he is not a politician by trade and represents a legacy of part-time legislatures run by average citizens.

“As a business owner, I believe in our founders’ vision of a Legislature run by the people, for the people,” Hawley told City & State in a statement. “Our elected officials should not be career politicians but be active members of their community. I’m proud of the work I’ve done as a former farmer and business owner as I continue to be my community’s voice in Albany.”

Assembly Member Robert Smullen makes up to $250,000 of outside income from a military pension and up to $150,000 from rent, both of which are not subject to the cap. He did not respond to a request for comment.

As the chief financial officer of two New Jersey landscaping businesses, state Sen. Bill Weber has two outside incomes that together make up to $200,000. A spokesperson for his office said the senator has been advised not to comment on ongoing litigation. As a freshman lawmaker, Weber’s disclosure represents the year before he took office, so it’s unclear whether he will continue his outside employment.

State Sen. Mario Mattera also brings home outside income totaling as much as $200,000 – including from being a business agent for United Association of Plumbers, Fitters, Welders & Service Techs Local 200.

Freshman Assembly Member Matt Slater emphasized to City & State that he was not in office in the previous year, and the law does not apply to him, but he is still suing along with the other plaintiffs. His income during 2022 of  $100,000 to $150,000 came from previously being employed by Yorktown as town supervisor.

Assembly Member Brian Manktelow reported making up to $95,000 in outside income for the year of 2022. He cited his experience in farming and employing members of his community as reasons for making more than the current limit in a statement to City & State 

“We are supposed to be a representation of all New Yorkers, and that includes both in riches and in poor,” Manktelow said. “As a result of farming for so many years, I was able to offer young family farmers an opportunity to help them get their feet underneath them and be successful… By limiting outside income, we are limiting the pool of people who can run for office, and that is not a proper democracy.”

Assembly Member Andrew Goodell has several outside incomes that total up to $85,000 from capital gains, dividends and client services. However, capital gains and stock dividends are not subject to the outside income cap.

State Sen. Thomas O’Mara makes one salary of $50,000 to $75,000 from providing direct-to-client law services for Barclay Damon, LLP, which is located outside of O’Mara’s district. 

Assembly Member Jodi Giglio has an income of $20,000 to $50,000 from providing “professional services” to a building materials supply business. She did not return a request for comment.

State Sen. George Borrello has two incomes from a family owned beach resort business that each bring in $5,000 to $20,000. His income would not be affected by the legislation.

Senate Republican Conference Deputy Communications Director Eileen Miller reached out to City & State on behalf of conference members named in the lawsuit to say that all inquiries should be directed to Dennis Vacco, the attorney representing the Republicans in the case.

The complaint filed by Vacco acknowledges that the elected officials who are plaintiffs (there are three other plaintiffs who aren’t legislators) stand to lose a fair amount of money because of the legislation, stating each of the officials’ sources of outside income but not the amount. However, he argued that the reason for opposing the law is that it goes against the U.S. Constitution, the New York state constitution and the will of the voters. 

The case first argues that the law violates equal protection statutes because it treats “economically successful” legislators differently from all other legislators. The second argument is that the law unconstitutionally attempts to add another requirement for running for state office by making it so only lawmakers making less than $35,000 in outside income can vote and get elected in the future. Additionally, the case argues that the law attempts to deprive the plaintiffs of their right to property interests without due process; disenfranchises the constituents of any politician who loses voting rights due to violating the law; and violates the constitutional rights of lawmakers to their set salary by withholding the salaries of those who make over the maximum amount of outside income.

The 10 plaintiffs were not the only state legislators to vote against the outside income law. Twenty-three senators and 52 Assembly members voted against the legislation, including Democrats. Still, it was largely a Democrat-backed bill.

“I think outside income is a potentially corrupting influence on legislators, and we have seen that recently with the number of indictments in government,” Democratic state Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal told City & State. “The public deserves to know that legislators work only for them and not for any outside interests. Not to mention that legislators of New York are now the highest paid in the entire nation.”

This sentiment is shared by state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who was the Senate sponsor for the bill.

“It is disturbing that the Republican Party wants to return to the old Albany ways of Dean Skelos and pay to play corruption,” the majority leader’s communications director, Mike Murphy, said in an emailed statement, referring to the infamous former Senate majority leader who went to prison on federal corruption charges. “Public service should be just about that, serving the public not lining one’s pockets with outside money.”