Assemblyman Carl Heastie, D-Bronx, said Saturday that he wouldn’t pad his legislative salary with any outside work as the next speaker, and he explained his missed votes and that he’s not the subject of any state or federal investigations.
In an interview with Gannett’s Albany Bureau, said he would not take any outside income.
“If the conference so gives me the privilege to be their speaker, that will be my only job,” Heastie said. “I wouldn’t have any outside income.”
Heastie, 47, currently earns a modest amount of income outside of the $94,500 he’s paid as an assemblyman and chair of the chamber’s labor committee. An adjunct professor at Monroe College, a for-profit college in the Bronx, Heastie was paid between $5,000 and $20,000 for the private gig in 2013, according to his state-mandated financial disclosure form.
First elected in 2000, Heastie appears on pace to become the first African-American to hold the post of speaker, the Assembly’s top job and fourth in line to the governor’s office, though he was quick to caution that no final decisions have been made.
“I think my colleagues have recognized throughout my 15 years, I’ve always been a consensus builder,” Heastie said. “That’s how I’ve been my whole career. I just think that speaking to my colleagues and reinforcing to them that the person I was as their colleague is the same person I’ll be if they give me the privilege to serve as speaker.”
Last year, City and State — a weekly news magazine — reported Heastie‘s campaign expenditures had been under review by the Moreland Commission, an anti-corruption panel Gov. Andrew Cuomo abruptly disbanded in March. On Saturday, Heastie said he’s confident his political campaign has been in compliance with the law, and said he’s not the subject of any state or federal investigations.
A look at Heastie’s expenses shows that he has consistently ranked among the top of the Legislature in claiming travel and per diem reimbursements, collecting $23,441 in 2014, third-highest in the Assembly. At the same time, Heastie missed 174 votes last year — or about 15 percent of the total — which was 14th-highest among Assembly members, according to the New York Public Interest Research Group.
Heastie said the vast majority of his missed votes came from three days where he was excused from the chamber, including one day he missed for his daughter’s moving-up ceremony at school. Twice, Heastie said he missed votes because of his teaching responsibilities, including the night of June 19, when he said he returned to Albany before the Assembly’s marathon overnight session concluded.
Indeed, state records show 74 of the missed votes came June 11, the day Heastie said he missed for his daughter’s ceremony. The records also show he missed a few dozen votes on June 19, but was in his seat to vote in favor of medical marijuana when the bill came to the floor at 2:45 a.m. June 20.
From 2000 through 2010, Heastie collected a total of $228,141 in travel and per diem expenses, a review by Gannett’s Albany Bureau found. That ranked him 10th in the Assembly over that time period.
Heastie attributed his high per-diem costs to his travel routine, in which unlike many of his colleagues, he stays in Albany the night before legislative session begins for the week. Lawmakers receive per diem payments of $172 for each night they spend in Albany, along with reimbursements for travel.
“On the issue of per diems, I travel up to Albany the night before session so I’m in the office Monday morning to be prepared, and I usually stay in Albany until that last day,” Heastie said. “If you look at my attendance record, you will see that it matches up.”