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Can we call it 'Cakegate?'

Oops, he did it again.

State Sen. Antoine Thompson just can't seem to get out of his own way.

First he was in favor of -- no wait, against -- the ouster of Sen. Hiram Monserrate.

Then he was missing in action while the Senate was in business, only to find out that he had stayed at an oceanfront resort in Jamaica while, um, searching for companies to relocate to Buffalo.

The latest episode involves not just what some see as a jaw-dropping show of self-serving vanity -- his photo on a cake -- but possible violations of state ethics laws by having his staff hustle donations from 20 restaurants to feed his supporters and staff at a St. Joseph's Day Table celebration last week at his district office downtown.

Thompson cake

The Public Officers Law says elected officials can't solicit or accept anything that's beyond a nominal value -- as Gov. David Paterson has learned the hard way -- and a spread with food from 20 restaurants isn't exactly nominal.

And his mug shot on the cake? Well, that's priceless.

What will become of this?

Well, the Legislative Ethics Commission could investigate on its own. Or it could respond to a complaint.

The commission, however, doesn't exactly have a fearsome reputation. I mean, how many legislators have been nailed for accepting donations of this sort since the law was amended three years ago?

None.

Kinda sounds like the state Board of Elections, doesn't it?

What's next for the senator?

I don't know, but I've gotta tell ya, Thompson is slowing me down in pursuit of other stories.

I was sitting at my desk minding my own business a few weeks ago when I got the call about Jamaica. The cake photo arrived unannounced in my e-mail Wednesday and I was digesting my lunch Thursday when a caller alerted me to the provisions of the state ethics law.

For two days now I've been trying to build a spreadsheet to analyze the relationship between hydropower allocations and employment at major recipients of New York Power Authority customers -- come on, admit it, you're dying to read the story -- and I haven't been able to enter my first set of numbers yet. 

I'll try again today, but with my luck, the phone will ring again about our mayor in waiting.

Sorry, NYPA, but you'll just have to wait your turn.

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Politics | State government
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