We're down in Florida with kids, and the usual vacation posting rules apply. Truth is though it's not all that much warmer than it is in New York (though no snow, thankfully). So I have a few minutes to sit inside and try to make some sense of the Aqueduct mess.
Amazing, isn't it, the way that this has escalated from the usual muttering about Albany business as usual into a cascading disaster that will surely serve as the final death knell to the administration of David A. Paterson. The governor of New York is under siege from an eager press, a vindictive legislature, and, apparently at least according to one report I've read, federal prosecutors with an agenda as blatantly apparent as the one which Paterson himself is being accused of. It was his ill-timed meeting with Floyd Flake the morning after he picked AEG that set this all off; Danny Hakim may not have that blockbuster on the governor now, but it was his article on that encounter that seemed to set the events in motion.
And, try as he may, Paterson cannot explain that meeting away. Even if it was innocent as he says, it was still incredibly stupid, and showed a lack of political instinct and common sense that makes his fitness for an elected term questionable at best.
Everyone wants to investigate now, even Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Notice that he's calling for a probe of how the Lottery Division conducted itself, and not, of course, his own role in establishing and willingly participating in the secretive process behind it all.
Meanwhile, Tom Precious reported that the federal investigation is not limited to New Direction Local Development Corp, a charity group headed by Senator Malcolm Smith, as Paterson had insisted.
But several sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, say the federal probe has expanded in recent days to go beyond just the Queens charity to include the Aqueduct matter. The U.S. Attorney’s office is not commenting. [Bloodhorse](The probe has also expanded to other affairs of Senator Smith.) And that makes sense, because there's not a lot of money involved, and the idea that the group is "indirectly tied to AEG" because Smith is an associate of Floyd Flake, a .6% investor, or because New Development's treasurer was a CFO of Flake's church, is just laughable.
Having said that though, the idea that the selection of AEG would be the subject of a federal probe at this stage doesn't ring true to me either. Maybe I'm wrong, but seems to me that the Justice Department takes a far more deliberate approach, and doesn't pay attention to sensational headlines in the New York Post. So I sense some politics and vindictiveness at play here. Some of us speculated here about the various reasons and motives that the White House would have to either spur on the Justice Department, or to see to it that nothing is said or done to discourage any of the reports about this supposed investigation that we're seeing now.