Joe Lhota is a man of many titles - hospital executive, director at Madison Square Garden, chairman of the MTA - which he's managed to hold all at once.

On Thursday, a watchdog group released correspondence showing how Lhota is able to wear so many hats.

In the letters, Lhota told the Joint Commission on Public Ethics he was only a "per diem" MTA employee whose work was "strategtic and advisory."

"Frankly everybody who was involved has allowed this crazy situation," said Common Cause New York Executive Director Susan Lerner.

Soon after Governor Cuomo appointed him, the ethics panel told Lhota it considered him a state "agency head."

Under state law, agency heads must obtain prior approval for any outside job paying more than $5,000.

Lhota wrote back that he leaves day-to-day MTA operations to others, and that because he considered himself a per-diem worker, he did not need approval for his other jobs - including a $2.5 million a year gig at NYU Langone Medical Center.

The ethics commission agreed. 

Common Cause says that's ridiculous.

"The public deserves a chairman and CEO of the MTA who works first and foremost and only in the public interest and not for private employers," Lerner added.

The ethics watchdog said Lhota's work with Madison Square Garden is especially problematic because MSG sits atop Penn Station, an MTA hub.

"You cannot satisfy your fiduciary obligations for which you're paid over $150,000 a year to Madison Square Garden and put the pubic interest first in your responsibilities as chairman and CEO of the MTA," Lerner said.

These are issues Lhota didn't have to contend with in his earlier run as head of the MTA, which ended when he left what was then a full-time post to make an unsuccessful run at mayor in 2013.

The MTA responded, "Joe Lhota sought guidance from JCOPE and is treated as a per-diem member of the MTA Board, as all other board members are. The law clearly allows the Chairman to delegate the day-to-day operations...which is exactly what happened."

"It's an up and down complete failure by the people who are supposed to be responsible to the public - the governor, the board, Lhota himself and the ethics commission," said Reinvent Albany Executive Director John Kaehny. 

Common Cause wants an independent auditor to rule if there's a conflict of interest - saying if there is one, Lhota has to settle on which job he wants.