Silver Wants to See if Racino Makes Horse Sense - NBC New York

Silver Wants to See if Racino Makes Horse Sense

Assembly Speaker suspicious in light of recent reports



    Silver Wants to See if Racino Makes Horse Sense
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    Gov. David Paterson speaks after being sworn in as (L to R behind) Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno listen.

    Something smells at Aqueduct, and Sheldon Silver wants to find out what it is.

    The State Assembly Speaker requested a formal investigation Thursday into the Aqueduct Racetrack bid process, amid rumors and allegations of political favoritism in the selection which awarded the Aqueduct Entertainment Group the rights to develop a 4,500-slot racino in Queens.

    Silver requested state Inspector General Joseph Fisch look into the "serious questions" about the controversial selection process, the Daily News reported.

    Reports link various politicians to the bidding process, including Senate President Malcolm Smith.   

    In a letter to Majority Leader John Sampson, State Minority Leader Dean Skelos and other State Senate Republicans requested a public airing of the deal, saying the public has the right to know if the reports are true.

    Skelos called for a bipartisan legislative hearing in early March. 

    Sources told the Albany Times-Union that Senator Smith was subpoenaed by the U.S Attorney's Office, which requested records for a charity in his Queens disctrict which has allegedly mishandled money raised to benefit victims of Hurricane Katrina.

    Smith denied any day-to-day involvement with the New Direction Local Development Corporation, although he is listed--along with
    US Congressman Greg Meeks -- as a founder on the group's website.  One of New Direction's board of directors has ties to the Reverend Floyd Flake, who is a political mentor to Smith and also holds a small stake in the AEG bid team.

    Also subpoened in the Southern District Courts is the state Lottery Division, which is involved in the development project.  However, a spokesperson for Governor Paterson states the investigation is based mainly with money mishandling with New Direction, and not the Lottery Division.