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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Coincidence

- Joe Bruno, now the former Senate Majority Leader, insists that the long-running federal investigation into his business affairs had nothing to do with his decision to not seek re-election in November. So I guess it's just coincidence that the announcement came shortly after the FBI seized what the NY Post reports to be a massive volume of his detailed records dating back to 1995. That actually coincides with Bruno's entire tenure as Majority Leader.

"They wanted every piece of paper that ever came across Sen. Bruno's desk, going way back," the official continued.
The Times reports that the investigation may be intensifying, which raises the question of what the hell they've been doing over the last 2-3 years. The Albany Times-Union states that sources believe [the probe] has been dogged by unnecessary delay.

In fact, the NY Daily News tells us that Bruno's lawyer contacted the investigators to see if his stepping down would end the probe.
"It was in the context of if he does this now, does it impact where you all are?" the source aid.

Bruno's team did not get a reaction, the source said.

"There was no deal," he said. [NYDN]
That claim will no doubt be treated with skepticism should no charges result.

In addition to Bruno's involvement with Wright Investors, the Times Union reports that his involvement with horse racing comprises much of the investigation.
The FBI probe outlasted a tumultuous period in New York's state-operated racing industry as it struggled to recover from allegations of mismanagement by its longtime operator, the New York Racing Association.

NYRA's contract to run the state's three thoroughbred tracks was renewed, but not before being imperiled by a heated takeover bid from several competing racing consortiums, including some whose investors have strong ties to Bruno and other elected officials.
An obvious guess of what the issue is would be Bruno's relationship with Jared Abbruzzese, a founding member of Empire Racing who was the target of investigations for acting as an unregistered lobbyist with respect to plane rides provided to the Senator; and, more importantly, the owner of Evident Technologies, to whom Bruno steered $500,000 of taxpayer funds generally reserved for non-profits. Another relevant matter may be a broodmare transaction with a prominent GOP donor.

Bruno's departure is being met with the kind of mixed emotions that we see in the comment section here; El Angelo calling him corrupt; Green Mtn Punter praising his leadership and his service to his constituency and the racing industry.

I have to say that I agree with an element of both arguments. I believe that Bruno abused his office and public monies in order to further his personal and political goals. However, I have to admit that, in following him closely over the last few years in writing this blog, I find it hard to maintain much animosity towards him. He might be the most honest corrupt politician I've ever seen. When he says that he hasn't done anything wrong, I think that he honestly believes that; and I think that you certainly can't say that about most politicians (or anyone for that matter) who say that in reaction to accusations of wrongdoing. Bruno is a product of Albany, set in his old-style ways, seeing nothing wrong about paying-to-play; it was just the way he was brought up in politics. I always recall the time when Bruno, when asked about the campaign finance reform bill that he and Spitzer butted heads over, replied: "I laugh when I read that people gain access by their contributions. So what? So what?" He just didn't get it. But I find that, for some reason, I think I'm gonna miss the old guy. (And, according to some reports, so will Governor Paterson.)

- By the way, the legislature has adjourned with no announcement regarding the Aqueduct racino being made.

- We were also supposed to believe that Richard Dutrow missed the sham Congressional hearings of last week because he was sick. So I guess his absence, and the fact that he had a horse come back positive at Churchill (which he knew about weeks ago, according to the Times) is just a coincidence too. Man, that could have been embarrassing.

4 Comments:

Anonymous said...

Can we now take Brunos name off everything that he used out tax money for ? The Joseph L. Bruno stadium, spring pavillon at Saratoga, all three of his boxes at the track,(anyone want the cc receipt showing Bruno buying 16.+ in food and leaving a $15. tip ?)

And...

Joseph L. Bruno Theater in the Arts Center of the Capital Region in Troy, the Joseph L. Bruno Stadium at Hudson Valley Community College, the Joseph L. Bruno Pavilion at Saratoga Spa State Park, the Joseph L. Bruno Biotechnology Development Center at Albany Molecular Research, the Joseph L. Bruno Lobby in the Greenbush Area YMCA, the Joseph L. Bruno Town Park in Hoosick Falls, the Joseph L. Bruno Family Resource Center of the Commission on Economic Opportunity for the Greater Capital Region Inc....WMHT public broadcasting facility in North Greenbush......

jk said...

Albany is corrupt and Bruno is a part of it. Pataki, Silver, Spitzer and Patterson are or have been major players as well. Good luck to Mr. Bruno going forward. Maybe we will cross paths at the Spa or the Big A Racino!

steve in nc said...

This brings to mind novelist Sara Paretsky's definition of an honest politician in Chicago: one who stays bought.

Alan, you're even admitting it -- you're gaining undue affection for those you cover. That makes you a good guy, and you get points for acknowledging the issue, but giving in isn't so healthy for the journalist in you.

If I broke the law and got caught, I'd get prosecuted, even if I was nice to those around me and honestly thought that what I did was OK -- just the way I had always done things.

Elected officials with ethical blindspots need to be forced from office AND prosecuted. We can't afford any more of a political culture that reacts with "so what?" to buying influence. I won't miss Bruno.

To preempt at least one line of attack from some of the anonamatons (c'mon, pick a pseudonym, folks -- it's not so hard), I'm not saying that Bruno is worse than many others, and lord knows that many Dems are as bought & sold as their supposed "adversaries" across the aisle.

The courage to hold the powerful's feet to the fire is in short supply. Alan, you've shown that courage before. Don't go soft on us.

Anonymous said...

Nice to see that Alan has a more balanced view of Joe Bruno's legacy than does El Angelo in a previous comment and the first few commenters to this post. I think his story will be an interesting one of how NY politics really work, told from the perspective of his 30+ years in Albany and his business career prior to elective politics.

When I think of corrupt politics in Albany I think of William Kennedy's great "O, Albany" which tells the story of the old Dan O'Connor/ Albany County Democrat machine and his long relationship with Mayor Erastus Corning. For political junkies, the stories don't come any better! Now there were some pols who knew how to get things done their way for their relatives and friends! /S/Green Mtn Punter