Among the many perks given to members of the Independent Democratic Conference, their leadership positions as vice chairs on Senate committees helps bring them some prestige. Also in some cases, sweet, sweet cash. However, a new story suggests that the money paid to some members for their committee vice chair positions might not have been given out legally. Corruption? In Albany? Albany, New York? Wow.

The Times reports that in the case of three members of the IDC, their roles as vice chairs in Senate committees were improperly classified as chairmanships, which means that they were also improperly paid an extra $30,000 in stipends.

The payments in question, stipends that are supposed to be given to the leaders of committees due to the extra work associated with the job, went to State Senators David Valesky, Jose Peralta and Diane Savino. According to the Times, all three Senators were listed as committee chairs in payroll statements given to the state comptroller, despite actually serving as vice chairs in the Health, Energy and Telecommunications and Codes committees respectively. The Times found two instances in emails to the comptroller's office from the Senate payroll office from 2015 and 2016 in which Valesky was listed as chair of the Health committee, and a March email to the payroll office that listed Savino as the Codes committee chair and Peralta as the Energy and Telecommunications chair.

The Times also reports that it's "unclear who drafted the documents incorrectly stating the chairmanships," but the Senate GOP spokesperson stood by the payments in a statement given to Spectrum's Nick Reisman.

The pro-IDC Twitter account SupportIDC (which appears to be a staunch supporter of Jose Peralta) continued their constant stream of premium Meltdown May content, suggesting that the Times was racist for using a picture of Peralta and choosing to "ommint" the other two senators who got a "steipend."

The Republicans who actually chair the committees also have leadership positions with the GOP, for which they receive stipends. Since state law says lawmakers are only entitled to one stipend at a time, they're not eligible to receive the committee chair stipends. Senator Joseph Griffo, chair of the Energy and Telecommunications committee, is the chamber's Deputy Majority Whip. Senator Kemp Hannon, chair of the Health Committee, is also Assistant Majority Leader on Conference Operations, and Senator Andrew Lanza is both the chair of Energy and Telecommunications committee and the Assistant Majority Whip. Technically the money therefore goes unspent, but state law doesn't make any mention of payments for vice-chairs of a committee.

"Clearly this is disturbing, and the more we learn about it, the more outrageous it becomes," State Senate Democratic spokesperson Mike Murphy told Gothamist in a statement.

Good government group Common Cause New York released a statement blasting the payments, and saying they represent:

an egregious misuse of public monies, and potentially a more serious legal violation, which must be investigated by law enforcement. This is not a clerical error to be blamed on staff, or punted to the Comptroller.

It is entirely appropriate for the Comptroller to trust and rely on the information as certified to him by the designating authority, in this case the Senate.

Voters need to know:

1. The terms under which the Senate leadership arrived at this arrangement

2. That it will be discontinued immediately

As of press time, spokespeople for the IDC, and Senators Valesky, Savino and Peralta had not responded to requests for comment.