ALBANY—Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith, once again tonight, said that he was satisfied with State Senator Pedro Espada Jr.'s efforts to settle his affairs with the State Board of Elections, and implied that anything more—for example, full compliance with election law—would be "something extra."
"I gave him three things he had to do," Smith told reporters during a Monday night Q&A. "One, he had to pay a portion of his fines, which he did. Two, he had to set up a committee, which he did. And three, he had to satisfy my belief that he would set up an arrangement with the campaign elections board that he would pay before they meet in September. He's met the three criteria that I asked him to do, and he's met them ahead of time."
I asked Smith why, in setting those criteria, he didn't include disclosure of contributions or expenditures related to Espada's 2008 election.
"First of all, I don't file his campaign file documents. Normally, that's what you do. It's my belief, once he files his campaign reports, that he will do that," Smith replied.
I said Espada hadn't submitted five of the required reports.
"You should ask him that question," Smith said. "He satisfied the things I asked him to do."
Why not set a fourth criterion asking Espada to comply with the law?
"It's like my daughter. Every time Dad gives her something, she wants something extra. I have to say, ‘I'm sorry Amanda, the candy store's closed.' I asked him to do three things, he got them done. Now, we could probably go on every single day about something else," he said. "He didn't equivocate. He didn't fight back. He didn't say ‘I'm not doing it.' He accomplished it on Friday as opposed to on Tuesday."
Reporters started peppering Smith with questions. He suggested they talk to Espada and write about it. Ken Lovett of the Daily News said that his newspaper has been doing that since September.
I asked Smith if he was happy to have Espada serving in his conference as a committee chairman.
"Let me just say this to you. I thought I answered you, and I'm going to answer you again, and then I would hope you take the answer and be happy with it. There are three things I asked Senator Espada to do. One, was the filing of his committee. He did that. Two, was to make arrangements to satisfy that $61,000. He did that. Three, was to make sure he's paid some money toward his fines. He did that. Now, if you're telling me he didn't complete all his paperwork, then you need to call him, talk to him, talk to his lawyer, talk to the campaign finance board and find out what's happening there. I got what I needed, OK? And I'm satisfied with what I have. Now if you want more, then you go forward and ask him."
As it happens, I had spotted Espada outside the Senate chamber earlier. I approached him and asked to talk with him about his campaign finance filings.
"I satisfied all of Malcolm's concerns, ha ha ha ha ha," he replied. (The recording is here.) I asked him if he would come into compliance with the requirements of the election law.
"My expenditures and contributions are already there," Espada said. "Understand this: they have it classified as a political action committee, but a political action committee is available to the public."
This is true, and the Espada for the People PAC has active filings. However, the senator's campaign did not file five required reports: a 10-day post-primary, a 32-day pre-general, an 11-day pre-general, a 27-day post-general and a January periodic report.
"You should be able to see what's fully there, with contributions covering my whole primary season. The only thing that we're missing is the January 15th filing," Espada insisted. "They have not directed us on how to file that, we have stopped waiting for direction and we're going to file it the way we filed all the others. All the others are there, absolutely there."
He said his treasurer would provide copies of these records. (Later, his treasurer came to speak with me, and has not yet sent copies of these records.) Espada noted that other newspapers have written about donations he got from Republicans and from Senator Klein, as delineated in this filing that is not among the ones listed above. He insisted that the only report missing is January.
As near as I can tell, this is not true—he is missing four other reports, which would contain most of the information about who financed his election bid this year. I asked Espada Jr. one more time about this.
"That's totally not true," he said. "I could show you evidence of that, and that's the only way we're going to resolve your question."
He promised to provide these missing reports. I have not yet received them.