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Friday, June 18, 2010

Sampson Nailed on Memo

The NY Post reported this morning that the Inspector General's investigators have learned that Senate Democratic leader John Sampson leaked confidential information on the Aqueduct racino bidders to the lobbyist for AEG.

The Senate staff memo -- now in the hands of the state Inspector General's Office, which is probing the entire matter -- provided a summary of the proposals of rival bidders, insiders said.

It gave AEG valuable inside info allowing the consortium to revise its first bid in the second round. AEG was the only firm to revise the amount of its bid, going from lowest to highest in the projected amount of revenue it would raise through video lottery terminals at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens. [NY Post]
In a court filing, the IG's office termed AEG's ascension in the bidding "meteoric and inexplicable."

Senator Sampson now admits to Danny Hakim of the NY Times that he did indeed give the document to former Senator, and then AEG-lobbyist, Carl Andrews, but explains:
“The document was not confidential....It contained all the information, public information, that was constantly going back and forth.”
Well, excuse me, but does the distinguished Senator really think that we're that stupid? I mean, as stupid as he and his colleagues were, acting as brazenly as they did on AEG's behalf, holding out stubbornly for them despite the fact that their political connections to Malcolm Smith were all over the press from Day One? And with the Joe Bruno trial going on in the background; did that mean nothing to him? I'd certainly be keeping an eye on the Supreme Court's upcoming decisions on the honest services laws if I were Sampson.

In fact, as you probably know if you've been following this fiasco, there was no public information....only the bits and pieces that leaked out from the bidders themselves. The whole process was conducted behind closed doors. Sampson told the Times that he was merely trying to prove to Andrews that AEG's bid was, in fact, one of the lowest submitted. It wasn't for long, as we know, and now we know for sure why.

The Post article also notes that court papers filed by the IG's office noted the meeting between Governor Paterson and AEG partner Floyd Flake the next business morning after the selection was announced. It's interesting to take a look back at that whole affair. The meeting was reportedly set up by Paterson adviser Bill Lynch, who was also a paid lobbyist for bidder SL Green (only in Albany, folks). Lynch was then promptly fired by SL Green for "cozying up" to AEG. However and in fact, it was that meeting which really started the ball rolling on the media's intense scrutiny of the deal which helped lead to AEG's downfall. Now, SL Green is back in the ballgame. So Lynch actually couldn't have done more to help his former employer. Would I be out of line to suggest that Lynch actually knew what he was doing and...... Yeah, I guess I would be.


Anonymous said...

They can't help themselves.

Anonymous said...

I take issue with your "only in Albany" comment, I suspect this is the norm for politicians everywhere, not only here but in the entire world.

Politician (either party) is the only job more lowly regarded by ordinary people than lawyers, not surprising since so many of the former are also the latter.

El Angelo said...

I think we're ahead of oil executives and investment bankers at the moment.

Anonymous said...

Raise your hand if you thought that the VLT deal reeked of collusion. I am shocked, shocked, that it took this long to follow the trail and figure it out.

jk said...

"AEG did alter its bid after the deadline for submissions," state Deputy Inspector General Philip Foglia said in an affidavit.

"AEG was in possession of information concerning the details of the submissions of other bidders and the evaluation process that was not available to these other bidders," Foglia added.