THE ALBANY CORRESPONDENT - Smith-Gate BY CARLOS GONZALEZ
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.