2007_02_bruspisil.jpgIn the latest battle between Governor Eliot Spitzer and Assembly leader Sheldon Silver, the governor has said that legislators should disclose their outside income, something they are currently not required to do. The state Constitution classifies legislators as part-time representatives, allowing them to work outside their elective office. Silver has worked "of counsel" to the law firm of Weitz and Luxenberg for the past five years. The New York Post reports that Albany insiders believe Silver pulls in $300,000 a year from his law firm job in addition to his $121,000 salary as Assembly speaker.

Weitz and Luxenberg often represent "slip-and-fall" clients who sue the state and city. Silver insists his position does not create a conflict of interest. According to New York Public Interest Research Group legislative director Blair Horner, the lack of transparency "just creates questions" and opens the door to conflict of interest accusations.

Other critics point to Silver's opposition to tort reforms that would cap medical malpractice and personal injury claims as evidence of a conflict of interest. Silver has denied that his job as a lawyer influences his decisions as Assembly speaker.

Photograph of NY State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, Governor Eliot Spitzer, and Assemly Speaker Sheldon Silver by Tim Roske/AP.