The top aide for disgraced New York Assemblyman Sheldon Silver makes more money than Gov. Andrew Cuomo, according to a New York Daily News report. Judy Rapfogel makes $180,503 a year, higher than Cuomo’s $179,000 salary.
Silver, a Democrat, was removed from his post as assembly speaker earlier this year after he was arrested on corruption charges. Rapfogel is a powerful figure in the state house, having worked for Silver since the start of his political career.
Citizen Union Executive Director Dick Dadey criticized the salary, telling the Daily News:
No staffer for a rank-and-file lawmaker should make more than the governor. The salaries are often determined more by politics than rational judgment.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Silver Gave Rapfogel a Raise in January
According to the Daily News, Silver gave $10,000 raises to Rapfogel and another aide, counsel Jim Yates, in January, shortly before he was indicted on federal charges. Yates now works as counsel for new Assembly Speaker Carl Hestie and earns the same salary as Rapfogel.
A spokesman for the Assembly, Michael Whyland, told the Daily News that Silver is able to decide how to pay individual members of his staff, but that a budget hasn’t been set for his office. Whyland said salaries are among “transition issues” that still need to be worked out.
The Daily News reports that Rapfogel’s salary is lower than only two Assembly staffers, who both work for Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, a Republican. His chief of staff and secretary to the Senate Finance Committee, Robert Mujica, earns $183,340 a year, and Thomas Dunham, the Senate GOP’s director of operations make $181,408.
Silver took a $41,000 pay cut when he left the speaker’s seat and now earns $80,000 per year.
2. Her Husband is in Prison For Stealing From a Charity
Rapfogel’s husband, William, pleaded guilty in 2013 to stealing millions from the charity he ran, the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty. He is serving a prison sentence of between 3 1/3 to 10 years, according to the New York Times.
According to the Times, Rapfogel had run the charity since 1993, growing it into an organization that spent more than $110 million, mainly from government funds, on home health care and other services for the poor and elderly. Rapfogel earned more than $400,000 a year in his role. He was accused of taking $3 million to fund a lavish lifestyle as part of a scheme with others that led to a total theft of $9 million from the charity.
Judy Rapfogel was not implicated in the scheme and denied any knowledge of it. According to the Times, William Rapfogel turned over nearly $400,000 after he was charged, and agreed to pay back the total $3 million.
3. Republicans Have Criticized Her Salary
New York Republicans quickly attacked Rapfogel’s salary after the Daily News report.
Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin tweeted that $180,000 was “too much when #TarnishedSilver was Speaker,” and that the salary is “outrageous” for a chief of staff of a rank and file assemblyman.
4. She Has Worked for Silver Since 1976
Rapfogel started her career with Silver in 1976 after working for his first campaign. She became his chief of staff in 1993.
5. Rapfogel and Silver Are Both From the Lower East Side
Rapfogel and Silver live in the same building in the tight-knit Lower East Side Jewish community. William Rapfogel and Silver have been friends since a young age, and the two families raised their children together.