McLAUGHLIN & FITZPATRICK CALL ON SILVER TO DONATE FREQUENT-FLIER MILES AWARDED AT TAXPAYER EXPENSE

McLAUGHLIN & FITZPATRICK CALL ON SILVER

TO DONATE FREQUENT-FLIER MILES AWARDED AT TAXPAYER EXPENSE

Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin (R,C,I-Melrose) and Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick (R,C,I-Smithtown) today called on Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to donate his estimated 205,834 frequent-flier airline miles, a perk he was awarded at state taxpayer expense of over $20,000, to US Airways’ “Miles of Hope” program. Silver, who regularly uses taxpayer dollars to travel on US Airways with his “Chairman’s Preferred Dividend Rewards” card, allegedly accrues his frequent-flier miles for personal use. 

“For years, Speaker Silver has been a preferred customer of US Airways at the expense of New York State taxpayers,” said McLaughlin. “Mr. Silver uses taxpayer dollars to fly on US Airways from New York to Albany and back, going through either Washington D.C. or Philadelphia each time, earning hundreds of thousands of frequent-flier miles which he apparently uses for his own personal benefit. It seems clear that the only reason he is taking a five hour, two-leg airplane trip each way is because of the frequent flier miles he is awarded. It does not make any sense to fly when his commute is a three hour car ride in his taxpayer-funded vehicle. Mr. Silver’s weekly trip is at minimum two hours longer and approximately three times more expensive than driving.

“Many New Yorkers are struggling to put food on the table for their children each night, yet the speaker of the Assembly is flying high with our tax dollars and apparently earning bonus miles for personal trips.

“We are calling on Speaker Silver to do the right and ethical thing and donate his frequent-flier miles to US Airways’ “Miles of Hope” program, which provides airline trips to children who need lifesaving medical treatment. Donating his frequent-flier miles would be the right way to end this questionable practice.”

“In light of the speaker’s impressive wealth, those accumulated miles would go a long way to help children in need of lifesaving medical treatment,” said Fitzpatrick. “I think all the residents of New York State would agree it’s the right thing to do.”

US Airways’ “Miles of Hope” program allows frequent-fliers to donate their miles to each of their five sponsored nonprofits: the American Red Cross, Keep America Beautiful, Fisher House Foundation (part of the Hero Miles program that provides airline tickets to wounded, injured and ill military members and their loved ones), Mercy Medical Airlift and Make-A-Wish America. During each charity’s week, US Airways will match 1,000 miles for every 5,000 miles donated to that nonprofit. Thousands of additional miles would be received through Silver’s donated miles.

“Assemblyman Fitzpatrick and I urge our legislative colleagues, and Governor Cuomo, to join us in calling on Speaker Silver to donate his taxpayer-furnished frequent-flier miles to charitable organizations. For an individual worth millions of dollars, the last thing he should be doing is arrogantly taking advantage of state taxpayers by racking up free airline trips at their expense,” concluded McLaughlin.

Editor’s Note: CLICK HERE to find Assemblymen McLaughlin’s and Fitzpatrick’s letter to Speaker Sheldon Silver.

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Steve McLaughlin for Assembly