The more we learn about the failed attempt to rig the bidding process for the Aqueduct racetrack casino, the more we realize just how crooked Albany has become.
Readers no doubt will recall that the long-stalled plan to build a slot-machine casino at the Queens racetrack collapsed several months ago when the state awarded, and then pulled, a contract with an outfit called Aqueduct Entertainment Group. The company had no track record, so to speak, but it had powerful political supporters, including former Queens congressman the Rev. Floyd Flake, who had hooks into the State Senate.
Governor Paterson reversed his decision to award the contract to AEG after a huge public outcry. But the scandal is ongoing, and so are the new revelations. Just the other day, the public learned that Senator John Sampson of Queens, the leader of the State Senate, gave an internal Senate document about the bidding process to a lobbyist who represented AEG.
Senator Sampson says he doesn’t regret giving the lobbyist the document. After all, he says, the document was not confidential. Clearly, the man just doesn’t get it.
The Aqueduct deal smelled worse than Aqueduct’s stalls on a hot summer day. Were it not for newspaper investigations and a public outcry, AEG would be installing slot machines-assuming the company could figure out how to do it-right now, and its politically connected executives would be preparing to cash in big time.
It is all too clear what AEG and its allies in the Senate tried to do. You’d think Senator Sampson would understand that the public is outraged over this attempt at insider trading, Albany-style. But no, he sees nothing wrong with slipping a government report to a lobbyist.
The candidates for governor had better be paying attention. The State Senate is a mess, and somebody has to clean it up. Fast.