Yesterday, Joseph Bruno, the NY State Senate's majority leader, revealed that the FBI was investigating him for his "outside business interests." Wow, is being investigated by the feds the new black for Republicans? Or is being investigation something most politicians need to go through (we're talking to you, Alan Hevesi!)? Republican Bruno called a press conference and told reporters, "I have nothing to hide. They are going into background over the past five or six years."
According to a source that spoke to the Times Union, the investigation may be related to his dealings with Joseph Abbruzzese, a "business partner and friend." :
Abbruzzese, a horse owner, is involved in numerous ventures, including at least one that has received $500,000 in discretionary grants, called member items, directed by Bruno. The two have several ties, including land development, plane rides and thoroughbred horses.
Abbruzzese is part of a group called Empire Racing Associates, which bid on the state's racing franchise that officials, including Bruno, plan to award within the next year. Abbruzzese led the effort to raise $3 million to fund the organization this spring.
He also is under state investigation for furnishing his aircraft to Bruno for political and fundraising trips.
Bruno's consulting business, Capital Business Consultants, was set up six years ago; the Post describes its activities as helping "clients with marketing, strategy and business development." Member grants as business development - the new future of Albany!
Bruno was recently re-elected the majority leader; the NY Times reports one Republican senator as saying, "Did we know? We didn't. Would it have changed things if we'd known? Maybe. I would have definitely had more questions if I'd known this."
Bruno will be the highest-ranking Republican in NY once Pataki leaves office. But with the Democrats in the Senate interested in recruiting some Republicans, there could be serious fallout for the GOP's state power.
The NY Times has a profile on Bruno's rise from poverty to political power. And Bruno is not the only politician in hot water: State Comptroller Alan Hevesi is awaiting to hear if he'll be indicted on charges related to using state employees to chauffeur his wife.