Malcolm Smith Agrees with Spitzer, Abruptly

The AP has an official statement from Democratic Senate Leader Malcolm Smith explaining why he pulled his entire conference off a bill raising salaries for state lawmakers–something Governor Spitzer opposed. Smith said the conference changed position because Senate Republicans didn't agree to campaign finance reform.

As a result, the members of the minority conference will remove their names as sponsors of Sen. Bruno's pay raise bill," Smith said in a prepared statement. "Moreover, we will oppose this bill absent an agreement by the majority to embrace meaningful campaign finance reform.

Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno, needless to say, thinks that Smith got steamrolled.

Somewhere, political consultant Norman Adler — who once called the Senate Democratic conference a "wholly owned subsidiary" of Spitzer's operation — is chuckling.

UPDATE: Here's Smith's full statement:

For most of us in the Senate Democratic Conference, public service is the sole source of income to support our families. It has been nearly a decade since the members of the New York State Legislature received a pay raise.

As individuals and as a conference, we would like to see the issue of a legislative pay discussed openly. However, we recognize that this discussion should only arise in the context of the Legislature having made substantial progress in addressing priority bills, including the reform agenda.

While we have made some progress this year, there is still much work to be done. One major component of this agenda is campaign finance reform.

As a result, the members of the Minority Conference will withdraw their support of Sen. Bruno's pay raise bill absent an agreement by the Majority to embrace meaningful campaign finance reform.

Serving in the New York State Legislature is an honor. We take our duties and responsibilities very seriously, and we work hard to represent the interests of our constituents.  While we believe that pay raises should be discussed openly, campaign finance reform remains a top priority.  The public has spoken, message received, message delivered.