Irate Espada: "It's Personal, Damn Right"

Angry senator says he'll keep tabs on hires

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    NBCNewYork.com
    I've got my eye on you.

    Days after his son quit a cushy three-figure Senate job amid allegations of nepotism, Majority Leader Pedro Espada has added a new title to his own position: Hiring cop.

    Espada was so annoyed by the treatment of his son, Pedro G. Espada, and the primarily anonymous quotes attacking the hiring that he's now cautioning other lawmakers to watch their backs when it comes to their hires, according to a published report.

    The Bronx Democrat says he's never made a big deal when the family members and "girlfriends" of his colleagues turn up on the Senate payroll, but after the stunts some pulled after the hiring of his son, he says he's going to start keeping tabs.

    "I'm not going to be a vigilante, but I'm going to be vigilant," Espada told the Daily News. "I'm going to know why people are hired and what their jobs are."

    While he refused to out any lawmakers who may have leveraged their positions to push relatives or close friends to the top of the hiring pool, Espada said the nonsense is over.

    The fuming father thanked some Democrats for their support, but told the News he won't forget what some of the "ugly things" that others had to say.

    "It's personal, damn right," he said. "I'd like to meet a father or mother who wouldn't be upset by this."

    Pedro G. Espada recently landed a $120,000-a year Senate job, but resigned before his employment could even be processed on the state payroll. He quit Thursday after Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's office opened a probe into whether the hiring had violated nepotism rules.

    The elder Espada was the dissident Democrat who made possible a June coup in the Senate when he joined a Republican-led coalition, taking the slim majority from his Democratic party in exchange for a lucrative leadership post. He later rejoined the Democrats with the post of majority leader.

    Critics say Little Espada got the job as payback when his father returned to the Democrats – a charge the senator vehemently denies.

    "He has been expressing a desire to return to government service in some capacity and saw this opportunity. I encouraged him to pursue it," Espada said. "That was the extent of my involvement."

    In the meantime, Sen. Reuben Diaz asked Cuomo to find out how many relatives of state legislators, commissioners and department heads are on the state's payroll, according to the News.