ALBANY—Yesterday he was a "thief." Today, Pedro Espada Jr. is accused of "political extortion" by Austin Shafran, Malcolm Smith's top spokesman.
"It comes down to money, and we obviously found out what Pedro Espada's price was," Austin Shafran, his spokesman said on WGDJ Talk 1300. "He was trying to give $2 million to sham groups with addresses that were clearly linked to Espada employees."
Espada, as part of a deal that supposedly toppled Smith's control of the State Senate, was named temporary president of the chamber. Smith and his surrogates maintain the action was illegal, and are claiming Espada's defection was prompted when Smith stalled his member-item requests.
Shafran named two supposed not-for-profit groups–Green Echo Energy and Bronx Human Services–that were connected to top Espada aides. Shafran said on air he knew things were not above board because "the addresses were obviously fictitious."
Shafran's attacks also underpin a robocall that has gone out to several thousand voters.
Republicans and their supporters, including billionaire Tom Golisano, don't seem to be bothered.