THE ALBANY CORRESPONDENT – Smith-Gate BY CARLOS GONZALEZ

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GONZALEZ_Carlos
KLEIN_Jeff
KLEIN_JeffIDC
chair strips Smith of perks; falls short of calling for resignation.

Independent
Democratic Conference (IDC) Leader and Senate Co-President Jeff Klein (left) in a
statement announced this afternoon he has stripped Sen. Malcolm Smith (center) of his
various leadership posts and perks as a result of his arrest on bribery charges
this morning. Sen. Klein did not call for his resignation.

The
federal criminal charges against Sen. Malcolm Smith allege Sen. Smith was confident
$500,000 in funds could be secured from a transportation grant.

The
complaint continues by alleging the money would have been used to improve a
road near a real estate project that would have benefited a developer. The “developer”
was in reality an undercover federal agent.

According
to the court documents, Smith had proposed the funding plan as late as March
21, at the height of the budget making process.

The
complaint alleges Sen. Malcolm Smith, New York City Councilman Dan Halloran,
several Republican county chairman and even the mayor of Spring Valley in
Rockland County were part of a Tammany Hall-style bribery scheme to get Smith
on the GOP ballot for New York City mayor

Smith
had been the IDC conference chairman and vice chairman of the Senate Finance
Committee
, along with the chairman of the Senate Social Services Committee.

Smith
bolted from mainstream Democrats and joined the IDC as the fifth member of the
group that would eventually form a coalition government with the Senate
Republicans.

Sen. Klein
released the following statement: “These are very serious allegations that, if
true, constitute a clear betrayal of the public trust. As a result of these
charges, I have made the decision to strip Senator Smith of his committee
assignments and of his conference leadership position. By participating in the
alleged scheme, Senator Smith breached the trust of the Independent Democratic
Conference. I trust that the U.S. attorney’s office will act expeditiously to
resolve this matter and to ensure that justice is served. Finally, given the
level of criminality alleged, I believe that Senator Smith should seriously
consider whether or not he can continue to effectively serve his constituents.”

“Now
we know why Smith was lured to the IDC by Jeff Klein,” said a high-ranking insider
with Senate Democrats who thought it was for diversity reasons. “In exchange
for a vote on Senate leadership, it's not far-fetched that “Kleinites” had
discussed this transportation deal with Smith. These types of behind closed
door deals speaks volumes regarding the cozy relationship between Klein and
Smith.  Investigators should probe further.”

Todd
Shapiro
, a Smith spokesperson said, “The Senator has a record of 13 years of
dedication, hard work and integrity to the people he serves in Queens. He has
provided to the heath, safety and well-being of the almost 20 million residents
in New York. He will be vindicated when the all the facts in the case are
revealed.”

It is
unknown if Gov. Cuomo will call for Smith's resignation.  

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Hezi ArisTHE ALBANY CORRESPONDENT – Smith-Gate BY CARLOS GONZALEZ

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