The Empire Center in a report released on Thursday pointed to what appeared to be an unusual process: Seating new members of the Assembly to vacant seats in the weeks before a new session is held, allowing them to collect thousands of dollars in extra pay.

The report was pushed back on by Assembly spokesman Michael Whyland, who pointed out the new members were filling out the unexpired terms of their predecessors after being elected in November. In other words, the Assembly says the new member can indeed be sworn in, vote, and collect their legislative pay before those who were elected alongside them in regular November elections.

The Assembly pointed to a 2014 meeting with the state Board of Elections to bolster their case. At that meeting, the board adopted a policy in which “an office appears on the ballot just once for the full term and that when that legislature is elected to the full term, it is expected that the Senate and the Assembly will seat them to fill the vacancy for the final 2 months.”

The think tank in a follow up on Friday morning conceded this is a “grey area” of election law.

“At the very least, the issue remains sufficiently ambiguous to demand a statutory clarification,” the Empire Center said.