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GOP seeks to gain from Democratic casino scandal

ALBANY -- It took a bit longer than expected, but the Senate Republicans have finally found a use for the Albany-famous video of a Democratic lawmaker on the floor of the Senate screaming for a pay hike.

The peg for the "Show me the money" speech by Sen. Eric Adams is the Capitol's newest -- and one of its broadest -- scandals involving potential bid rigging for a downstate casino contract. The contract, worth billions of dollars over its 30-year lifespan, was the subject of intense criticism last week by the inspector general's office, which forwarded its damaging findings -- chiefly against Senate Democrats -- to city and federal prosecutors in Manhattan.

Now, the Senate GOP, fighting to take back control of the 62-member body it lost in the 2008 elections, has a new website out that goes through -- albeit it in a partisan, campaign attack mode -- the whole juicy scandal. The site -- http://givebackthedirtymoney.com -- comes complete with photographs, charts, videos, links to press accounts and all sorts of nasty things to say about Democratic candidates in the key battleground races.

One of the chief targets -- Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson -- hasn't been talking since the IG's report was released last week. But Austin Shafran, his spokesman, said again yesterday that "any review will prove Senator Sampson did nothing improper in the process.''

"Instead of focusing on job creation and lower taxes -- New York's greatest needs -- Senate Republicans are playing politics as usual.'' He called the Senate GOP strategy to highlight the scandal with voters a "misdirection to hide their mismanagement of New York'' when they controlled the Senate.

Scott Reif, a Senate GOP spokesman, said the new web site is intended to "educate voters'' about a scandal that touches "virtually every member of the Senate Democrat conference.''

"How will the next governor ever be able to work with the Senate Democrats since they'll be spending most of their time in grand jury rooms testifying against each other? The only way you clean up Albany is by putting Republicans back in charge of the Senate, and everybody knows it,'' Reif said.

UPDATE: Not all Democrats should be lumped in with the scandal, says the campaign of Cynthia Appleton. Judith Hunter, campaign manager for Appleton, a Democrat from Warsaw running in the race for the seat held by the retiring Sen. Dale Volker, called to say Appleton earlier this week returned a campaign contribution from the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee because of that committee's alleged ties to the casino bidding scandal. She said a $2,500 check arrived from the committee on Monday, and that Appleton promptly sent it back. She also said Appleton has said she would not, if elected, support any Democratic senator under investigation in the bidding case for a leadership post in the Senate next year.

-- Tom Precious

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About Politics Now

Robert J. McCarthy

Robert J. McCarthy

A native of Schenectady, Robert J. McCarthy came to The Buffalo News in 1982 following a six-year stint at the Olean Times Herald. He is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and has been covering local, state and national politics since 1992.

rmccarthy@buffnews.com


Tom Precious

Tom Precious

Tom Precious joined The Buffalo News in 1997 as bureau chief at the state Capitol, where he covers everything from statewide politics and state government fiscal affairs to health care, environmental and municipal government matters. Prior to The News, he worked for news outlets in Albany and Washington, DC.

tprecious@buffnews.com


Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri is an Amherst native and has covered politics and government in upstate New York since 2003. She joined The Buffalo News in 2012 and covers City Hall.

@jillterreri | jterreri@buffnews.com


Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski, The Buffalo News Washington bureau chief, has reported from the nation's capital since 1989 after joining The News as a business reporter in 1984. A graduate of Syracuse University, Zremski is a former Nieman fellow in journalism at Harvard University. In 2007, he served as president of the National Press Club.

@JerryZremski | jzremski@buffnews.com

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