Rage Over Former State Sen. Pedro Espada’s $1MM Payroll

ALBANY – Former Bronx Sen. Pedro Espada was a one-man employment agency while in office, racking up a $1 million payroll over his final six months at the State Capitol.

The scandal-scorched Espada, who was tossed by voters last September, spent more on staffers than any other senator – by far.

“That is such a waste of taxpayer money,” said Citizen’s Union Executive Director Dick Dadey. “And for the Democratic leadership to be complicit in giving him that amount of staff is just outrageous.”

Espada’s 50-person staff included more than 20 “community outreach” and constituent liaison workers who made as much as $60,000 a year, new disclosure forms show.

It also included former Erie County Democratic Chairman Steve Pigeon, who earned $150,000 a year.

Espada, who was defeated in the primary by Bronx activist Gustavo Rivera, did not return a call seeking comment.

Prosecutors indicted Espada and his son in December on charges they looted more than $500,000 from their nonprofit health clinic. They also face tax evasion charges.

Senate Dems are trying to distance themselves from Espada .

“These were his decisions,” said one Democratic official, who stressed Espada’s staff is no longer employed by the Senate. “As majority leader, [he] had control over the hiring of his own personnel.”

Senate Republicans, who re-took control of the chamber in January, said Espada’s payroll was symbolic of the Democrats’ overspending.

The Daily News first reported in December that the Democrats had overspent their $28 million budget by as much $14 million.

Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson‘s six-month payroll topped $725,000 and Brooklyn Democratic Sen. Carl Kruger spent $657,353 during the period, according to expense records, which cover the period of April 1 through Sept. 30, 2010.

Senate Democrats have given layoff notices to nearly 200 workers as they work to reach the $15.2 million annual budget given to them by the Republican majority.