In the wake of allegations that State Senator Joe Bruno improperly used State aircraft for political trips, the State Ethics Commission has issued guidelines for the use of State aircraft by public officials for State and non-State travel. The new guidelines are contained in the Commission’s Advisory Opinion No. 07-03.
The Commission concluded that when a public official uses State aircraft for State and non-State travel, the following requirements must be met:
- (i) there must be a bona fide State purpose for the trip;
- (ii) the State purpose must be the primary reason for the trip;
- (iii) the public official must make an accurate apportionment of the time spent between State and non-State business and promptly reimburse the State for that portion of a trip not related to State business;
- (iv) such reimbursement must be based on current airplane charter costs; and
- (v) the official must provide the Executive Chamber with the details of the activities upon which the allocation between State and non-State business is based, information that the Commission expects will be available to the public through a FOIL request, except to the extent public disclosure would jeopardize the security of the public official.
The Commission also remarked that whether New York State should ban outright any use of State aircraft for any non-State business is a matter for the Legislature to decide.