Now that he's taken down Sheldon Silver, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara is reportedly investigating State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, yet another one of Albany's ridiculously powerful "three men in a room." Governor Cuomo must be feeling left out!
NBC New York broke the news: "Federal investigators are looking into state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos' sources of income, according to people familiar with the investigation... Bharara is taking a hard look at Skelos’ ties to the real estate industry, among other areas of inquiry, the sources told NBC 4 New York. Skelos, the highest ranking Republican in state government, has not been charged with any wrongdoing."
Skelos told th News in 2011 that he does not personally represent anyone with business before the state — though his firm does.
The News reported in 2013 that Ruskin Moscou Faltischek was representing a group, Concerned Home Care Providers, that was actually suing the state. The group, made up of home health agencies, was trying to stop Gov. Cuomo’s bid to rein in high salaries at state-funded nonprofits.
Skelos aides at the time said he was not involved in the lawsuit.
Records show Concerned Home Care Providers had also been paying an influential Albany lobbying firm that boasts Michael Avella, a former Senate Republican counsel, and Brian Meara, a longtime lobbyist with ties to Manhattan Democrat Silver. Meara is cooperating with Bharara's investigation into Silver.
Ruskin Moscou Faltischek also has a lobbying arm that represents clients with business before the state. Skelos aides have said the senator has no connection to the lobbying arm.
Outside income earned by state lawmakers was a major focus of Cuomo’s now defunct Moreland anti-corruption commission.
Silver, the Lower East Side Democrat who led the Assembly for 21 years, is stepping down after Bharara's office accused him of taking millions and bribes and kickbacks. Silver's mysterious salary had long been of interest, and Bharara said the lawmaker made bank from personal injury law firm Weitz and Luxenberg while apparently never meeting clients (the law firm says it is "shocked" over the allegations).
Before Silver's reckoning, he, Skelos and Cuomo were the "three men in a room," the coven that determined New York State policy with political horse-trading. Last week, Bharara said, "If ever there was a moment for real reform, I think it’s now... If there was ever a time for New Yorkers to show their trademark impatience with the status quo and to show it loudly, I submit now’s a good time for that."