Today, Democratic activist Bill Samuels and his reform organization, New Roosevelt Initiative, raised questions about the enormous staff budget of disgraced State Senator Pedro Espada and called upon him to open payroll and staff budget books. According to a recent Buffalo News investigation, Espada’s weekly staff payroll nearly equals that of the entire Western New York State Senate delegation.
The Buffalo News report details that Espada has 40 full and part-time employees working for him with a total weekly staff budget of $36,304. The staffs of State Senators Antoine Thompson (D-Buffalo) and George Maziarz, (R-Newfane) average about $10,000 a week, less than one-third that of Espada.
“At a time when our state is going broke, Espada continues to milk the system for his own benefit,” Samuels said. “Why does Espada need to spend over $1.8 million a year of taxpayer money on staff salaries? New York voters deserve a full accounting of what these people are doing and how they are being paid. If Espada truly has nothing to hide, he should allow an independent auditor to check his books to insure that no money is being wasted.”
Samuels continued, “We are concerned that Espada is using some of his 40+ staff members for campaign purposes and we will continue to dig into this egregious use of public funds to see where the money is really being spent. Espada’s rampant staff expenditures are yet another example of how he has been able to hold his party’s leadership hostage by leveraging his vote and engorging himself on taxpayer money to stay in office.”
“It is further evidence in support of New Roosevelt’s decision to endorse Espada’s primary challenger Gustavo Rivera. Rivera is an exciting new Latino leader in the state Democratic party, who continues to show that he would put his constituents and reform issues first.”
Samuels, who was an active candidate for Lieutenant Governor until recently, founded the New Roosevelt Initiative to help identify and support the next generation of progressive leaders. Defeating Espada is the number one priority to New Roosevelt in its quest to bring reform to Albany.