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John Sampson

WNYC News

Investigation Shows Politicians Profit off Foreclosure Sales

Monday, June 17, 2013

WNYC

When New York State Senator John Sampson was arrested last month for allegedly embezzling $440,000 from foreclosure sales, the curtain pulled back on a little known corner of the state’s justice system – the job of foreclosure referee.

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WNYC News

Sampson Corruption Scandal Hits Home for One Family

Thursday, May 09, 2013

William Easterling and his wife used to own 165 Forbell Street, a two-family home in Brooklyn on the border of Cypress Hills and Ozone Park. The couple raised their four kids there. But they haven’t lived there in almost 20 years.

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WNYC News

Names Revealed of Electeds Recorded in Corruption Probe

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

A federal judge has unsealed the names of elected officials recorded on a wire by ex-state Sen. Shirley Huntley — including six sitting state Senators and one current Councilman.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Albany Corruption Continues

Monday, May 06, 2013

Brooklyn Senator John Sampson (D) was taken into custody by the FBI early today, and is expected to appear in court this afternoon. Ken Lovett, Albany bureau chief for The Daily News, discusses the widening corruption scandal rocking New York, and reviews Gov. Cuomo's proposals to combat corruption on the state level.

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WNYC News

Latest Corruption Arrest Erodes Power of Minority Politicians

Monday, May 06, 2013

Another lawmaker representing New York City in Albany has been indicted. This latest case is continues to weaken the power of New York City's delegation in the New York Senate, and to lawmakers representing communities of color in particular.

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The Empire

Tricky ethics picks bedevil new state ethics commission's first day

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Courtesy of the Governor's office

Since its appointment announcement yesterday, the state’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics has been criticized for some of the people picked by elected officials to serve on the commission that oversees elected officials in Albany. Here are some of the appointments that are raising the biggest questions:

1. Ravi Batra – appointed by Senate Minority Leader John Sampson

The biggest red flag being waved about Batra was his connection to incarcerated former Brooklyn Democratic Party boss Clarence Norman. Norman worked at Barta’s law firm, before being let go shortly after arrests were made that eventually led to Norman’s conviction on corruption charges. But it’s Batra’s position as a Democratic insider with connections to everyone, including as a fundraiser for the man that appointed him and Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Former Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau praised Barta in a letter of recommendation for the position, saying, “His independent judgment, informed by real life, will serve the best interests of New Yorkers who deserve a government that above all serves the public good.”

But Chris Owens, a Brooklyn Democratic Party official, said the move raised serious questions about both the appointee and the elected official who appointed him: “Why would John Sampson, after all the questions about the Aqueduct scandal which everyone’s trying to put behind them, nominate somebody who has any kind of taint attached to his name?”

2. David Renzi – appointed by Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb

Back in 2008, as a candidate running for State Senate against then-Senator Darrel Aubertine, Renzi was accused of inappropriately accruing retirement credit with the State as an employee of Pamelia, New York, even though he wasn’t technically an employee. At the time of the report in the Watertown Daily Times, both of Renzi’s partners in his law firm were being investigated by the State Comptroller’s office for similar violations.

Renzi defended himself against the accusations, saying, "I have always held myself to highest ethical standards." The Pamelia town supervisor, Lawrence Longway, said Renzi is still employed by the town as an attorney and that the issue was overblown during an election year.

“It wasn’t like he was getting so much money from us and getting benefits on top,” Longway said. “Everyone in this area laughed, because if there’s anyone in this area that doesn’t give money away, it’s me.”

But that didn’t stop Aubertine from airing attack ads back in 2008 that accused Renzi of unethical behavior.

Additionally, Renzi’s wife is reported to be employed by State Senator Patty Ritchie, which the Watertown Daily Times has Dick Dadey of Citizens Union quoted raising concerns over:

For a JCOPE appointee to have his spouse employed by a state senator, while legal, crosses the line ethically…It doesn't look good to have such a tight association between an appointee and a state senator, over whom one has oversight.

3. Mary Lou Rath and Mitra Hormozi – appointed by Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Governor Andrew Cuomo, respectively

While neither Rath nor Hormozi were specifically targeted in the past over ethics (in fact, Hormozi was lauded by some for her work in the AG’s office), both violate a rule that says elected officials and government employees need to be out of Government for at least three years to be allowed to serve on JCOPE.

Rath was a State Senator from Erie County until she retired in 2008. Technically, she was in office until January 2009, when the current Senator, Michael Ranzenhofer, succeeded her, meaning she has at the time of her appointment not been out of government the full three years.

Hormozi served as the Attorney General’s special deputy chief of staff under Andrew Cuomo, before heading up the now-defunct New York State Commission on Public Integrity. This would make her ineligible under the rules.

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Now, it’s not that everyone on the panel is facing fierce scrutiny. In fact two people in particular were highlighted as perfect picks for such a commission:

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WNYC News

Partisan Tensions Flare in NY Senate Over New Rules

Friday, January 28, 2011

Tensions erupted in the New York State Senate this week as Democratic senators complained over the placement of their chairs, the hours that they were to meet in session, and whether the newly empowered GOP was trying to “grab” more power.

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The Empire

'the demons inside our our party'

Friday, January 14, 2011

The New York State Senate Chambers. (MMR Dad's Flickr photostream)

If can get around the paywall, or cough up a $1 for The Chief-Leader, State Senator Diane Savino's comments about defecting from the Democratic Caucus are worth checking out.

"We're never going to regain the trust of the voters unless we confront the demons inside our party," she tells the paper. The comment comes afte a lengthy description of how Democrats lured back into their fold two other Democrats, Pedro Espada and Hiram Monserrate, who proved to be more troublesome in the long-run.

She goes on to say Minority Leader John Sampson was too eager to strike a deal with fellow Democrats in the other chamber, rather than reach across the aisle in his own.

"Time and again they capitulated to the demands of the Assembly…when we know that the future of the Senate for Democrats is in the suburbs," said Savino.

Sampson has his own perspective on why Savino and three other colleagues defected.

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The Empire

Sampson: 'people will just stab you in the back'

Thursday, January 13, 2011

State Senate Minority Leader John Sampson's interview on NY1 last night is worth watching. He lashes out at his former deputy, Jeff Klein, who broke away and founded the Independent Democratic Caucus.

"He said he had called me. Didn't call me once. Didn't pick up the phone and call me so we can deal with these issues," Sampson said in a moderate tone that only grew more animated over the five-minute clip.

Sampson went on to say, "there's nothing wrong with being independent. We have independent people in our caucus." Sampson also noted "the most independent Democrat in our caucus is Senator Ruben Diaz. But he chose not to leave the conference."

Sampson then goes on the attack, suggesting the defectors are less then loyal to the Democratic party.

"The question is, is it about being independent or about the powers and the perks?" asked Sampson. "You're getting an office. You're working with the republicans to get an office. you're working with the Republicans to get allocations. You're working with the Republicans to get chairmanships."

Sampson excused defector Dave Vallesky, since the upstate Democrat told Sampson earlier that he couldn't vote for him as leader, saying it was "an issue" back in his district.

As for freshman David Carlucci, Sampson was not as forgiving. "How can he have any dissatisfaction when he never sat one day with us in the chamber?"

Sampson admits he may have a "fault" in maintaining an open-door policy, because, "at the end of the day, instead of getting any credit, people will just stab you in the back."

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The Empire

Behaving badly in Albany

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

A disturbing trend continues:

Parker did not take the stand in his own defense and will be sentenced on January 27.

It continues a troublesome trend in Albany. Since the start of 2009, eight state Senators have come under scrutiny for wrongdoing.

Here's the tally:

Kevin Parker: Was found guilty today of beating up a New York Post photographer. Parker declined to take the stand in his own defense.

Vincent Leibell: Plead guilty to obstructing justice and not reporting as income money he took from two attorneys. Leibell’s attempt to cover up the payments were secretly recorded by prosecutors.

Pedro Epsada: Allegedly steered tax-payer money from a local health care facility into his pocket. Espada maintains he’s innocent.

Hiram Monserrate: Was found guilty of misdemeanor assault related to the night he says he accidentally broke a water glass against his girlfriend’s face. Monserrate has said prosecutors unfairly went after him and ignored his side of the story.

Carl Kruger: Was investigated by federal authorities for allegedly seeking contributions in exchange for favors. The probe reportedly extended to one of Kruger’s aides.

John Sampson: Allegedly passed along sensitive information to one of the Aqueduct bidders. Also, bidders sought to curry favor with Sampson once he took over the Senate leadership from Smith.

Malcolm Smith: Stood to benefit from deals with Aqueduct bidders before he was deposed by Sampson, according to the Inspector General’s report [.pdf].

Eric Adams: Named in the IG’s report, and, to clear his name, has convened a conference call with district leaders and will send a letter to his constituents explaining what he did during the Aqueduct bidding process. He says he did nothing wrong.

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WQXR News

Report from NY Solicitor General Finds Elected Officials Rigged Aqueduct Bidding Process

Thursday, October 21, 2010

New York State's highest-ranking elected officials rigged the bidding process for an unqualified gaming company seeking a lucrative contract to bring gambling to Aqueduct race track. That's the conclusion of a new report by the state's Inspector General Joseph Fisch.

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WNYC News

New York Democrats Implicated in Aqueduct Slot Scandal

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A new report by the New York State Inspector General accuses Governor David Paterson and Democratic legislative leaders of rigging the process for picking a company to run video slot machines at Aquaduct race track.

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WNYC News

Inspector General's Report Finds Elected Officials Rigged Aqueduct Bidding Process

Thursday, October 21, 2010

New York State's highest-ranking elected officials rigged the bidding process for an unqualified gaming company seeking a lucrative contract to bring gambling to Aqueduct race track. That's the conclusion of a new report by the state's Inspector General Joseph Fisch.

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The Empire

Dem Strategy: challenge GOP rivals to disavow Paladino

Friday, October 08, 2010

The State Democratic Party released letters from Albany’s two legislative leaders: Senate Democratic Leader John Sampson and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. In both letters, the Democrats urge members in their conferences to challenge their Republican opponents to disavow Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino.

Silver:

Your Republican opponent must answer whether he or she condones Carl Paladino and his tactics. Is it acceptable to send racist and sexist emails? Is it acceptable to make baseless accusations about others’ marriages? Is it acceptable to rant and rave in a way that debases our State?

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Carl Paladino has clearly become an albatross around the neck of the Republican Party. It is time for all Democrats to now speak out and challenge their Republican opponents to disavow Paladino and disassociate themselves from his dangerous brand of extremism and his ugly rhetoric and tactics. I urge you to do so immediately.

Interestingly, the letters from these legislative leaders do not make reference to the Democratic candidate for governor, Andrew Cuomo, the current state attorney general who is campaigning as someone who is not part of the dysfunctional state capitol.

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The Empire

With Espada

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Senate Conference Leader John Sampson does what not many Democrats are doing: appearing with Pedro Espada Jr.

They're announcing a town hall meeting about immigration on September 9. Another town hall meeting Epsada organized was canceled, reportedly, because it was drawing protests from his critics. Of which, there are many.

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Azi Paybarah

Koch: Finding Rivals to Silver, Sampson Not 'My Burden'

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

WNYC

Former Mayor Ed Koch is pushing candidates for state and federal offices in New York to sign onto a pledge saying they support non-partisan re-districting, expanded ethics rules and a state budget crafted by Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.

He’s also open to supporting another reform issue that’s being pushed by Mayor Bloomberg: non-partisan elections.

When I asked if he supports the measure, Koch said, “Up to now I have not, but I’m considering changing my position. Most of the large cities in the country do have a non-partisan elections.”

“There would no longer be primaries, anyone running for mayor,” he said, “you could identify yourself as Democrat or Republican if you wanted to.”

Turning the focus back to Albany, Koch reiterated his position that Senate Democrats will lose control of that part of the state legislature since most of them have not signed on to his reform pledge.

Koch has singled out the Democratic leaders of both chambers, Speaker Sheldon Silver in the Assembly and Conference Leader John Sampson in the State Senate, as “enemies of reform,” for refusing to sign the pledge.

But neither of them face Democratic primary challengers, nor any real general election opponent.

Koch said Silver and Sampson will get re-elected, “but they can be thrown out if the membership changes in the house that elects them.”

So, who would Koch like to see as the new Assembly Speaker and Conference Leader?

“I’m not involved in that,” Koch said. “That’s not what my burden here is.”

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The Empire

Koch: Senate Democrats ‘Going Down to a Defeat’

Monday, July 26, 2010

Former Mayor Ed Koch is pressing his case against Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Conference Leader John Sampson -- two Democratic legislative leaders who are among the handful of lawmakers to not sign Koch’s reform pledge.

"He said let's dialogue. I haven’t heard from him since."

On Fred Dicker’s show this morning, Koch recalled his conversation with Silver about non-partisan redistricting.

Koch went on to warn that Senate Democrats are "going down to a defeat," in no small part because many of them have not signed onto his pledge.

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WNYC News

Mayoral Control Down to the Wire

Monday, June 29, 2009

It's getting down to the wire.

Senate Democrats say they'll put off any more meetings with Republicans about who's in charge of the chamber until Wednesday. In the meantime, they plan to vote on $7 billion of "non-controversial items" including tax increases requested by New York City. But mayoral ...

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