Senate Web Vendor Plays For the G.O.P. Too

ALBANY—A company that has earned almost half a million dollars over the last seven years for maintaining the web sites of New York's state senators is also under contract with the now-minority Republicans to produce attack emails about the Senate Democrats.

Senate Democrats now in the majority have been slowly unraveling how the Republicans spent money, and according to majority spokesman Austin Shafran, Troy-based L&P Media was paid $472,056 dollars since May 2001 to develop and host Web pages for individual senators.

In the last two years, campaign finance documents show the company were also paid over $107,000 by the Senate Republican Campaign Committee for work including partisan Web sites and most recently, email blasts. They are also doing more than $1 million in contract work for other state agencies and donated to State Senate Republican and their proxies at the same time.

L&P is behind emails attacking State Senators Darrel Aubertine, David Valesky and Craig Johnson as "following the orders" of their "New York City boss," according to a copy that has been circulating this week. If you look at the bottom of Johnson's official Web site, there's the official "Developed by L&P Media" stamp.

"This seemingly pathological blurring of the political and the governmental is very troubling, and—at best—improper," said Rich Azzopardi, a Johnson spokesman.

Shafran said L&P was first hired by the Senate for Web development in 2001, and now is paid a fee every six months for hosting and updates. The current contract expires March 31.

"We're reviewing all contracts at this time, and when we're finished reviewing them we will make an appropriate determination," Shafran said.

L&P's parent company, Light & Power Communications, has over the years donated over $9,000 to the reelection campaign of former Majority Leader Joe Bruno, the SRCC and the Republican State Committee. According to the New York State comptroller, they also made over $1 million of other state contracts.

Last month, Fred Dicker reported on a memo from Senate Republican leaders directing them to use state staffers to assist "communications and political operations and to make the work product produced more salient to members and their reelection programs."

Staffers and senators on both sides of the aisle are embroiled in a partisan pissing match that escalated with the publication of the Times article.