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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

What Were They Thinking?

- It's little surprise of course that Empire Racing has severed all ties with Jared Abbruzzese by buying out his stake in the company. Abbruzzese left the board of directors in October upon word of his being investigated by the state lobbying commission for providing free air travel to Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno. But he remained an investor; and was one of the original ones. According to Business Review, he helped raise the $3 million the group initially used to form and to formulate its bid to take over the thoroughbred franchise. A spokesperson for Empire wouldn't say whether Abbruzzese gained or lost on the deal and said that "it was for a mutually agreed-upon price." But considering that Empire's bid was basically dead in the water as long as both he and Bruno remained as active players in the franchise drama, I doubt that Abbruzzese will be divesting himself of any airplanes in order to cover losses.

And the betting here is that Bruno will be forced to step down as Majority Leader before too long. He's expected to be re-elected to his post on Jan 3. But the story of a Senator receiving "hundreds of thousands" for his private consulting firm from a businessman (confirmed by Abbruzzese's attorney), and authorizing highly unusual grants to that businessman's company, seems so corrupt just on its face (regardless of what the investigation may eventually yield) that I'd be very surprised if he survives; especially given Bruno's vocal criticism of Alan Hevesi. Add in the fact that Bruno is one of three people who was to decide whether Abbruzzese's company would receive the racing franchise, and you just really have to wonder what they were both thinking, and if they really thought that the conflicts of interest would go unnoticed.

1 Comment:

Green Mtn Punter said...

Alan, thanks for your continued scrutiny of the NY racing franchise battle. This thing has had so many twists and turn already, with more yet to come, it's really tough to handicap who will hit the wire in front. That's a helluva way to do business but according to racing's critics, we should be eternally grateful that the politicians allow the industry to survive, much less prosper. If it were up to me, strictly on the merits of the bid summaries, and no politcal considerations, and no additional dirty laundry being discovered, I think a NYRA-Excelsior joint venture would be the best possible outcome for racing, with NYRA as the non-profit race track operator and Excelsior as the for profit VLT operator. Won't the appropriate legislative committees be holding hearings on the bid proposals so we can all hear, under oath,the answers to the many questions which have been raised about the bids and the entities submitting them? Wouldn't that help to re-establish some sort of public trust in the outcome, that all of the bids and bidders have been put on the hot seat and grilled in open hearings?