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Four Senate Democrats bolt, form Indy Dem Caucus

Wednesday, January 05, 2011 - 11:05 AM

Four Democratic State Senators bolted from their caucus and will form an "Independent Democratic Caucus," decrying what they say were corruption and "hyper-partisanship" under the leadership of their former leader, John Sampson.

The four senators, Jeff Klein, Diane Savino, David Valesky and freshman David Carlucci, say they will vote against Sampson becoming the senate leader, and against his Republican counterpart, Dean Skelos.

Klein said he spoke to Governor Cuomo, a Democrat, just before making the announcement, and said the governor was "supportive" of their legislative efforts.

"This is about the present Democratic leadership," said Klein.

"Senator Sampson has failed to move forward a legislative agenda when he was the Majority Conference Leader that New Yorkers cared about and now in the minority. I do no believe he will be able to make a compelling argument as to why the Democrats should be returned to power," Klein said.

It's worth noting that Sampson was among the people criticized in a recent Inspector General's report about unseemly lobbying practices surrounding the Racino deal last year.

"We are prepared to work with anyone," said Savino. "Albany is broken. We all know it. We're a national laughing stock."

When asked if they'd accept campaign money from the New York State Senate Democratic Campaign Committee, Savino joked, "there's no money to take." She and Klein said they'd both donated more to that campaign committee than they've received in return.

Savino denied this group was similar to the four Democratic State Senators who banded together two years ago, threatening to buck the leadership of then-leader Maclolm Smith. That group, dubbed the "four amigos" was more interested in empowering themselves, Savino said.

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