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Senate IDC leader takes away Smith's titles, committee posts

By Tom Precious

ALBANY -- It was with much fanfare in December when the all-white Senate Independent Democratic Conference welcomed Sen. Malcolm Smith, its first and only African American member, into the breakaway club that formed a coalition with Republicans to control the Senate.

Seven hours after Smith was arrested this morning by FBI agents at his Queens home on corruption charges, the IDC announced it is taking away the committee and leadership posts. The exact dollar amount, in terms of the stipend Smith got for the assignments beyond his base pay of $79,500, was not immediately certain.

Senate co-leader Jeff Klein, a Bronx Democrat who runs the IDC, said Smith had "breached the trust'' of the independent Democratic group that has helped keep the main Democratic conference from taking control of the Senate.

Klein said Smith should "seriously consider'' stepping down.

"These are very serious allegations that, if true, constitute a clear betrayal of the public trust,'' Klein said in a statement.

UPDATE: A Klein spokesman said Smith was getting a $12,500 annual stipend for his chairmanship of the social services committee.

UPDATE:

Others agree corruption is not good.

Senate Democratic conference leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said the allegations against Smith are "deeply disturbing'' and amounts to "an unacceptable and outrageous violation of the public trust for which there should be no place in our government.''

And this just in from Senate co-leader Dean Skelos, a Long Island Republican: "The allegations outlined involving Malcolm Smith are extremely troubling. I concur with the swift decision made by Independent Democratic Leader Jeff Klein to strip him of his committee assignments and his conference leadership position.''

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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.

[email protected]


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.

[email protected]


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 | [email protected]


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 | [email protected]

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