The fate of William Boyland, Jr. now rests in the hands of the jury on the 13th floor of the new federal District Courthouse on Pearl Street. Should elected public officials in New York State ever be allowed to hold no-show consulting jobs, much less for businesses dependent on public monies? In closing arguments Mr. Boyland’s attorneys all but admitted that the Assemblyman did no actual marketing or community outreach work during the time he was paid $35,000 per year as a consultant to Medisys, a hospital corporation with operations in Brooklyn and Queens. Mr. Boyland’s defense is that his job was given to him because of his family legacy (Mr. Boyland’s father, brother and sister had all held elected office from Brownsville): as his attorney explained yesterday, “the name is what he was paid for.”
Regardless of the outcome of this trial, New Yorkers should be asking whether they are okay having elected officials who collect large checks in the name of “goodwill.” This is not the first time we have heard of fees paid to lawmakers for dubious “consulting work” (recall Anthony Seminerio and Joseph Bruno). The Public Integrity Reform Act of 2011 attempted to at least shed some light on lawmakers’ consulting work by requiring financial disclosure forms to disclose client names and amounts, but the new law still contains some loopholes: officials will not be required to disclose existing client matters, or clients who pay them less than $10,000 per year, or who pay the official for insurance brokering services in any amount, whether for an existing or a new client. While the legislation creates an important public database meant to disclose every person who acts as a representative before a state agency, this will not address “no show” arrangements like Assemblyman Boyland’s.