BREWSTER, N.Y. (CBS 2) — It could be a political game changer.
A scathing report about corruption that stretches from Albany to Aqueduct has raised serious questions about New York lawmakers.
Will it impact campaign 2010?
For Senate democrats trying to maintain a one-seat majority in Albany they are chilling words.
“I am outraged and profoundly saddened by the conduct conducted throughout this process by the people who had a responsibility to serve the public, a responsibility that they betrayed,” New York State Inspector General Joseph Fisch told CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.
Fisch’s probe found that state lawmakers — especially several Senate Democrats — waged a campaign of leaks, favoritism and secret lobbying to fix a multi-billion dollar contract for a slots casino contract at Aqueduct Raceway.
The report charges that Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson and Senate President Malcolm Smith, among others, engaged in all manner of political skullduggery to champion a company, Aqueduct Entertainment Group, that kept getting extra chances to make the cut.
“The best description I had was some said it was like Dracula. You can’t kill it. When you think you’ve driven a stake through its heart it rises again,” Fisch told Kramer.
Fisch said he wants the case investigated criminally, but experts said his findings could be the deciding factor in hotly contested Senate races throughout the state, and could help Republicans take control of the upper house.
“Look, any incumbent Democratic senator is going to face from their Republican challenger the question: did you know about this? Were you part of this?” said Siena pollster Steven Greenberg.
Brian Foley on Long Island and Joseph Addabbo in Queens are among those in tight races. Republican Greg Ball in upper Westchester and Putnam is already on the attack, saying if the Democrat is elected…
“We will never clean up the wasteland that has become Albany,” Ball said.
“If we return that corrupt Democratic leadership to the state Senate shame on us,” former Gov. George Pataki said. “They are not just corrupt in a political sense; they are corrupt in a criminal sense and are trying to steal hundreds of millions of dollars from the taxpayers of this state.”
Prosecutors won’t have time to decide whether to file criminal charges before Election Day but the findings give voters something to think about before deciding who to back.
Pollster Greenberg said the report could also affect the state attorney general’s race because Democrat Eric Schneiderman was part of the leadership team. The latest poll has Schneiderman leading Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan by only 7 points.