The senators who received the payments are Republicans and members of the Independent Democratic Conference, a group of breakaway Democrats that partnered with the GOP to help it maintain control over the Senate.
The cash bonuses appear to have been given to senators who did not serve as committee chairs in situations where the actual committee chairs opted to receive larger payouts they earned for other leadership positions in the Senate.
IDC Sen. Dave Valesky of Syracuse and Sen. Patti Ritchie (R-Oswegatchie) also received or were approved to receive the money, according to news reports. Neither senator has responded to requests for comment.
On Monday, a lawyer for Senate Democrats also issued a memorandum that drew the opposite conclusion of the the lawyer. Shontell Smith said the bonuses are illegal and accused the GOP of trying to hide the payouts in records submitted to the comptroller.
"If their actions were above-board, they would have indicated to the Comptroller that these Senators were actually vice-chairs or deputy vice-chairs," Smith wrote.
Good-government groups like New York Public Interest Research Group have called on the Senate GOP to end the practice. Read post