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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Raising Money - Or Not

- Elizabeth Benjamin reports on her Daily Politics blog that soon-to-be ex-Senator Joe Bruno [Update: he will step down on Friday] is still raising money, and still doling it out prudenty. His reported disbursements include:

Two payments - $11,305 and $2,201 to the New York Racing Association. Bruno, an avid horseracing fan who has dabbled in breeding himself, has two boxes at the historic Saratoga track, one of which was made available to him as majority leader and now presumably gets passed on to his replacement, Dean Skelos. [NY Daily News]
Sounds like Senator Joe is looking to keep his red carpet at the Spa in place once he reverts to private citizenship. Meanwhile, Governor Paterson surprised observers by having raised over $3 million for his re-election campaign in just the last two months. Less surprising is that the money comes from virtually everyone with a cause - or pending state business.
The tidal wave of money came from everywhere: Lobbyists. Real estate moguls. Industry titans. Labor unions. Wall Street wizards. Gay marriage advocates.

"It's astounding," said New York Public Interest Research Group's Russ Haven, who called the pace of Paterson's fund-raising "torrid."

"This doesn't happen by accident; people are pursuing very aggressively. There are a lot of bills on the governor's desk, and everyone wants a say." [NYDN]
The prodigious fund-raising comes despite the governor remaining "deeply committed" to campaign finance reform.

Though they're not specifically mentioned here, I'll take a wild guess that Aqueduct racino bidders SL Green, Capital Play/Mohegan Sun, and Delaware North are all on the list too. We've certainly seen a lot of absurdity from Albany over the years, but the failure to name an operator has to go in the Dysfunction Hall of Fame. 'The end of the month' is the latest target date for a decision I've seen from Paterson, but there's no reason to take that the least bit seriously given all the missed deadlines. With all the talk about how revenue projections in the budget may come up short due to the bad economy, here's a virtually recession proof flow of funds which would come with no cost nor effort, and, with two of the bidders anyway, a huge upfront payment to the state; and they just can't get it together after all these months to make a relatively simple decision. Unreal.


Steve Zorn said...

Just a guess, but the delay in approving a VLT operator could well be the result of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's well-known penchant for extracting every last bit of advantage from every deal. Shelley is nothing if not patient. No bill gets approved and no decision gets made until he's satisfied that he's gotten the maximum possible leverage out of it.

Add to that the fact the Gov. Peterson's staff is new and somewhat unfamiliar with racing issues, and you have a typical Albany slow-motion disaster.

Anonymous said...

Look forward to seeing Joe Bruno at the Spa next week. He's accomplished a great deal for NY racing, and Saratoga, a true eminence grise of NY public service. We should all hope that Joe's involvement with NY racing does not end with his legislative career on Friday.
Congrats and thanks, Joe, for all of the good work you have done; you will be missed by your constitutents, many friends, and colleagues in both parties in Albany.
/S/Green Mtn Punter

El Angelo said...

Someone should calculate how much money the State has lost by not having these VLT's up for the last 5 years. It's got to be in the 9-digit range.

Anonymous said...

My guess is Senator Bruno is one of the legislative appointees to the NYRA board of trustees. Perhaps he even plays a role with the entity that wins the VLT bid, or even assisting the state with consolidating the OTB's with the racetrack's operator. Too much subject matter knowledge to just leave the business of "horses." What has his relationship been like with the NYRA in recent years?

El Angelo said...

Well, according to today's NY Times, the esteemed Senator Bruno is getting a raise upon retiring--his pension is higher than his annual salary!

GMP, at some point (not in the comment sections), I'd love to discuss why you like Bruno so much; personally, I can't stand him, but I am a downstate Democrat, the antithesis of him.