Tag Archives: Inspector General

The Democrats May Lose the State Senate, and That’s OK

28 Oct

When the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee demanded that AEG make specific campaign contributions to specific Democratic State Senators, State Senator Antoine Thompson (SD-60) was among the five designees of donations in excess of $5,000.  All of this was done in an effort to politically influence the selection of AEG to operate a racino at Aqueduct Race Track in Queens.

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While Thompson claims that he was absolved of any wrongdoing in the recent Inspector General’s report on the scandal, the question remains: why Thompson, why so much, and why for a project 400 miles from his district?  The answer likely has to do with the fact that Thompson has a leadership position within the DSCC, amazingly running its “communications”.

I say “amazingly”, because this is the statement his campaign released in response to the Buffalo News’ inquiries:

It is clear that my opponent is desperate. As I’ve said repeatedly, I was absolutely not involved in any of the negotiations highlighted in the inspector general’s report. At an excess of caution, I returned any outside campaign donations that the report said there might be questions about.

I’m absolutely gobsmacked that the senate Democrats had a unique opportunity over the last two years – an opportunity they hadn’t had in generations – to accomplish something positive, and to prove that they can move beyond the traditional Albany corruption.  Thanks in large part to Espada, Monserrate, Sampson, Golisano, and Pigeon, the Senate took dysfunction and turned it into a circus.  When “order” was restored, the Senate’s business was basically beholden to the evil corruption of Espada and Monserrate, and the absurd exploitative opportunism of Pigeon. “Responsible New York” wasn’t.

So, I am fully comfortable with the notion that the Democrats lose control of the state senate.  Such corruption and fecklessness doesn’t deserve any reward, and the Democrats who purport to represent their constituents in the senate need a wakeup call.  If you’re going to accuse the other side of being dirty, don’t be dirty yourself.

The way Albany works – where the Assembly Speaker, Senate Majority Leader, and Governor basically make any and all decisions – has got to change.  Obviously, it’s my hope that there will be some political will to do just that under Governor Cuomo.  I don’t know whether Skelos will go along, but if these people who go to Albany really want to earn their fat paychecks, and genuinely want to do the people’s business, then they need to make these changes.  They need to introduce deliberative representative democracy to the Senate and Assembly.  The legislators we send to Albany should also get serious about demanding these changes.  Like Mark Schroeder:

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So, while I hope people vote for Tim Kennedy in SD-58, and I hope for a Dem pickup in SD-59 with Cynthia Appleton, I will not be disappointed if the Democrats lose the senate, because they’ve only themselves to blame.  The epic failure of the Senate Democrats to simply be less corrupt than before should not be rewarded. Sorry.

Kennedy Slams Quinn III on Aqueduct

23 Oct

In the wake of a New York Inspector General’s report alleging that Antoine Thompson (SD-60) received a contribution of $8,600 from Aqueduct Entertainment Group (AEG), an entity that was heavily lobbying Senate leadership to obtain a racino operation contract at Aqueduct Racetrack, it’s being alleged that a local Assemblyman took over $50,000 in politically motivated, Aqueduct-related contributions and voted to set aside the regular procurement process to enable the Aqueduct contract to be awarded on political considerations.

Tim Kennedy, the Democrat running for State Senate in SD-58 hit his Republican opponent, Jack Quinn III in a press release yesterday:

KENNEDY: ‘IT’S AN ALBANY PROBLEM’

Kennedy campaign notes Albany incumbent Jack Quinn III is embroiled in Aqueduct scandal.

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Albany incumbent Jack Quinn III is embroiled in the Aqueduct scandal that has grabbed the state’s attention, voting to side-step standard procurement procedures and avoid transparency measures while taking money from parties involved in the bidding process.

In 2008, Quinn III voted “yes” on Assembly Bill No. 9998 that removed the standard procurement process for the Aqueduct VLT. His vote facilitated the entire scandal. Quinn cast his vote to keep politics involved in the bidding process and to keep the process out of the light of transparency.

An initial review of the inspector general’s report shows that Quinn III has taken approximately $50,000 from companies vying for the state business and firms associated with individuals named in the report.

Quinn III took a $9500 maximum contribution from Douglaston Development LLC, which was founded by Jeffrey Levine. Levine was named in the inspector general’s report as an “AEG representative.” Levine currently serves as the chairman of Douglaston Development. Levine also owns Levine Builders, a company named in the report.

Quinn III took a maximum contribution of $9500 from SL Green, one firm that was competing in the bidding process. He also took $4000 from a subsidiary of another company competing for the contract.

Quinn III also took two $9500 contributions from Tishman Speyer Australia Asset Management, a firm lobbying for SL Green. Quinn also accepted $5,500 from eEmerge, which is a subsidiary of SL Green.

For years, Albany incumbent Jack Quinn III has lived and participated in Albany’s pay-to-play culture,” said Tim Kennedy, a candidate for New York State Senate. “Quinn III’s vote to keep politics in the bidding process involving AEG and then financially benefiting to the tune of approximately $50,000 from those involved is a perfect example of why Western New Yorkers are hungry for change in Albany, and it’s why I’m fighting to bring change to Albany. It’s time we put politics aside to fight for progress in Western New York. Albany incumbent Jack Quinn III has voted to maintain the failed Albany status quo. I’m standing up for Western New York to make sure we build a government that we can trust.”

According to Kennedy, the root of the problem is Albany.

“After decades in control, Republican leadership corroded the State Senate into a rotten mess of corruption and dysfunction. The leader of the Republican Senate, Joe Bruno, was indicted by the FBI, and now, we see an Albany mentality persisting among certain members of the Senate Democrats,” Kennedy said. “This isn’t a party problem. It’s an Albany problem.”