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January 4, 2008

Contact: Walter C. Ayres

ALBANY - The New York State Commission on Public Integrity today released an advisory opinion regarding the use of State aircraft.

The Commission concluded that:

(1) a State official will not be required to reimburse the State for incidental personal time or the time between government meetings;

(2) reimbursement is not required for time spent on non-State business, such as eating, sleeping or being with family, during multi-day trips provided that the standards in Advisory Opinion No. 07-03 are otherwise met;

(3) reimbursement is required for the staff of public officials who attend political events, unless they are required as part of their official duties to accompany the public official, such as security personnel;

(4) the State official must take steps to ensure that the State is correctly reimbursed for the use of State resources for non-State purposes, and must seek guidance from those authorities that regulate the use of campaign funds if seeking to reimburse from campaign funds;

(5) if the aircraft is used for one-way of a trip, the official is to look to the cost that would be charged by a private charter company for a one-way trip comparable to the State official's trip; and

(6) the unavailability of other modes of transportation is not relevant to the determination of whether reimbursement to the State is necessary when the State official, who is using State aircraft, attends political events during the trip.

A copy of the opinion follows. Opinion 07-05