The more you peer under the rock that renegade Democratic Senator Pedro Espada, Jr. operates under, the more you understand why the Senate is so screwed. CBS2, which broke the story about how Espada probably illegally lives outside his Bronx district in fancy Westchester, has admittedly "been on his trail for months," and now they're reporting that he may have violated federal and state campaign finance laws. After not bothering to file campaign finance records for years, as required by law, Espada finally deigned to file some of them on Friday. But CBS2 says the records fail to "report significant amounts of spending, like for five glossy campaign mailings. Experts said mailings like this could cost as much as $20,000 apiece."
Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is supposedly investigating whether Espada illegally used a nonprofit group he controls—Soundview Health Clinic—to promote his political campaigns. So the AG might be interested to know that the permit for bulk postage stamps used for two campaign brochures is the same as the one used to send out brochures for the Soundview health clinics. "That's forbidden," says Blair Horner of the New York Public Interest Research Group. "A not-for-profit can only give a bulk permit for mail stamps to another not-for-profit, which a political campaign is not. Essentially this could mean that the taxpayer lost money, that the U.S. Postal Service lost money because they were clearly not paying full freight."
Naturally, there's more under this rock. Yesterday The Times Union reported that Soundview, which receives millions of dollars annually in taxpayer support, owes $347,000 in back taxes. But somehow Soundview found the money to pay Espada $460,000 a year as recently as 2007. You'll recall that before playing his pivotal role in the Senate coup, Espada was denied $2 million in earmarks from (former) Majority Leader Malcolm Smith for two new non-profits, because Democrats couldn't actually verify that the non-profits were legit. After helping the Republicans overturn Democratic control, Espada was promised the $2 million, and now he claims the title of president of the Senate, and is first in line to succeed Gov. David Paterson should the governor become unable to serve. And that's how a bill becomes a law!