At least a dozen state senators in New York have been getting free election-year publicity from the state’s private colleges after using taxpayer dollars to publish college guidebooks, each with one of the lawmakers’ photographs on the cover.
The Times Union, a newspaper in Albany, N.Y., first reported that Republican lawmakers had diverted tens of thousands of dollars from a special-projects fund—known as the General Legislative Operations Programs, or GLOP, account—to the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities. The private-college association then used the money to print special editions of a guide to New York’s private colleges featuring the sponsoring senator’s photograph and to distribute the books to high schools, community colleges, and libraries in the senator’s home district.
The newspaper reported that the independent-college group was given $89,500 in GLOP funds in two election years, 2004 and 2006, and since 2003 has received an additional $189,500 in earmarks for the senatorial guidebooks.
The Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities is led by Abraham M. Lackman, a former top fiscal aide to the Senate majority leader, Joseph L. Bruno. Mr. Lackman has been credited with raising the college-lobbying group’s profile in Albany and with winning greater state support for private colleges (The Chronicle, November 19, 2004).