Saturday, May 8, 2010

Probe into Aqueduct Racino Deal Focuses Heavily on State Senators by Kenneth Lovett - NY Daily News

Read original...

Senate President Malcolm Smith (l.) and Senate Democratic Leader John Sampson have already spoken to Inspector General's Office probers about the controversial Aqueduct racino deal.

A probe into the controversial Aqueduct racino deal is focusing heavily on the state Senate, the Daily News has learned.

In addition to Senate President Malcolm Smith and Senate Democratic Leader John Sampson, the Inspector General's Office has asked to speak to three other senators.

The three are Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada, Senate Racing and Wagering Committee Chairman Eric Adams and Sen. Joe Addabbo, who represents the district Aqueduct is in.

"I'm willing to talk about whatever the IG wants to know," Adams (D-Brooklyn) said.

He said he does not believe the IG will find anything improper.

"We think everything was done fairly," he said.

Also being called in to testify is a key Racing and Wagering committee staffer, sources said.

Senate Democratic spokesman Austin Shafran said the meetings, which will be done under oath, are in the process of being scheduled.

In addition, Shafran said Senate lawyers are "voluntarily" compiling information sought by the IG's office, including internal e-mails about the Aqueduct project.

But Shafran wouldn't say if all the e-mails and other documents the IG's office demanded in subpoenas will be turned over.

State leaders in January selected Aqueduct Entertainment Group as the winning bidder, but the deal fell apart in March.

It was the Senate that for months held out for AEG over rival bidders.

A one-time key AEG investor, Queens Rev. Floyd Flake, has close ties with Smith, who denies any wrongdoing.

Meanwhile, former senator-turned-lobbyist, Carl Andrews, filed legal papers to quash a subpoena for testimony and information after abruptly ending a recent informal meeting with the IG's office, sources said.

Andrews lobbied the Senate on behalf of AEG.