State Senator Fred Akshar reportedly is in a personal relationship with a former staff member whose salary jumped dramatically over the past two years.

According to a Gannett report, an Akshar representative has confirmed the senator is in a relationship with Jessica Williams.

The news story indicates Williams had been Akshar's director of administration and was on the senator's payroll until last week.

Williams reportedly has been reassigned to the Senate Republican central staff but continues to work in Binghamton. She had started work as a Senate employee in 2011 when she was hired by the late Senator Thomas Libous.

Williams now is said to be working in a newly-created position.

The Gannett story reported the staffer's salary was $32,600 when she worked as a part-time employee in 2015. Her current salary in a full-time position is reported to be $85,000.

Emmanuel Priest, Akshar's public affairs director, indicated the higher pay was appropriate for the work being done by Williams.

According to Gannett, Priest provided this statement: "Any salary increases she received during her time working for Senator Libous or Senator Akshar were in line with job description, responsibilities and the salaries of her colleagues."

Priest did not immediately respond to a call from WNBF News.

The Gannett report noted Susan Lerner of Common Cause New York said many organizations don't allow personal relationships between supervisors and those they supervise.

According to the story, Lerner said "it's either an unequal power dynamic or it's unfair favoritism."

Contact WNBF News reporter Bob Joseph: bob@wnbf.com

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