Government Watchdog Group Focuses On MTA Honcho

The government watchdog group Common Cause New York claims MTA Chairman Joe Lhota is violating state ethics law and the public trust by working another high paying job while heading the MTA. Besides being the head honcho for the MTA Lhota also remains a paid lobbyist for NYU Langone, a job that pays $2.5 million per year.

Susan Lerner, the executive director of Common Cause New York, said, "State law is very clear that the Chairman and CEO of the MTA are supposed to be one person and a full-time job.”

Now, Lerner says Lhota needs to make a choice and either leave the MTA or quit all of his other high-paying gigs.

"It's up to Joe Lhota to decide which job he wants to hold, but he can't work for the MTA and hold these other private positions. This is so clearly a conflict of interest. Here we have a person who is not putting the public interest ahead of private interests." 

New York State's Joint Commission on Public Ethics sent Lhota a letter asking him about the possible violations of ethics to which Lhota responded, "I believe that I am not an employee of the MTA," Lhota wrote to JCOPE. "To the extent, I would be determined to be an employee of the MTA, it would be based on the additional position as the chief executive officer, not as chairman…the law gives me the authority to appoint and delegate executive and administrative functions to other officials at the authority."

An article published in the New York Post, quoted Lhota spokesman Jon Weinstein: "As we've said all along, Joe Lhota sought guidance from JCOPE and is treated as a per-diem member of the MTA Board, as all other board members are."

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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