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Prosecuting Golisano & Pigeon

Tom Golisano and Steve Pigeon have used Responsible New York to play political hard ball, pouring more than $4 million in campaigns last year in an effort that, according to who you believe, was aimed at (1) reforming the state Legislature or (2) increasing their political power.

Well, if the state government was their Evil Empire, the Empire has struck back.

The state Board of Elections had sat on three complaints filed last fall against Responsible New York. The allegation: Golisano and Co. coordinated their activity, including a media barrage, with their favored candidates. That's considered a no-no -- a felony no-no, in fact -- because the election law prohibits such collaboration by independent, unauthorized committees because they face no spending limits on their activities.

Matters began moving in May -- sort of -- when commissioners on the state Board of Elections discussed referring the complaints to Albany County District Attorney David Soares for criminal prosecution. At least one Democratic commissioner thought the board agreed to refer the complaints, and, in fact, investigators from the board and DA's office subsequently met.

But then the coup happened in early June, engineered in part by Tom Golisano and Steve Pigeon, and all of a sudden Republican commissioners insisted they had agreed to no such thing. Then came the counter-coup last week, and the Dems regained control of the Senate.

By this point, the love-in was over. The GOP joined the Democrats in feeling like lovers jilted by Golisano and Pigeon.

And you know what they say about a lover scorned. It gets worse when an elephant and a donkey are involved.

The Board of Elections met Wednesday, and, unlike the Senate, there was bipartisan agreement. Commissioners voted 4 to 0 to refer the complaints against Responsible New York to the Albany County DA.

As one source told us: "There's nobody left to protect these guys. Nobody trusts these guys. Everybody's out for them."

Ah, yes, payback can be a real, well, you know what.

Pigeon regards the vote as political retribution, and to some degree, he's right.

But there's another way to look at it.

For once, the Democrats and Republicans have stopped running the Board of Elections as a mutual protection racket. 

The complaints against Responsible New York have a chance to be weighed on their merits.

Imagine if the Republicans and Democrats began to do likewise with things like redistricting and legislation.

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Politics | State government
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