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Assembly Dems use taxpayer money to defend pay raise in court

ALBANY — The Democratic-led state Assembly has incurred at least $153,520 in legal bills to preserve pay raises for its members.

The Assembly Democrats hired private attorneys in response to a December court challenge of the work of a special compensation commission which authorized a $50,500 salary increase for state lawmakers. The panel also curtailed legislative stipends and restricted outside income.

A judge ruled last week that the restrictions on outside income exceeded the commission’s authority.

While the panel’s decisions were defended in state Supreme Court by the attorney general’s office, the attorneys hired by the Assembly also weighed in to buttress their case that the judge had the authority to preserve the pay increase even if other aspects were struck down.

The Manhattan firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe submitted a February invoice for $123,315, and a March invoice for $30,205. The Assembly’s contract authorized up to $250,000.

A spokesman for the Assembly Democrats didn’t respond to a request for comment on their decision to hire outside counsel when their interests are already being represented by the attorney general’s office.

The commission was added to last year’s budget agreement as a deal by legislative leaders and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to provide lawmakers …read more

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