- 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.That claim will no doubt be treated with skepticism should no charges result.
Bruno's team did not get a reaction, the source said.
"There was no deal," he said. [NYDN]
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.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.
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.
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.