Dean Skelos, the New York Republican Temporary President and Senate Majority Leader representing Long Island’s ninth district, and his son, Adam, are under investigation for improper business deals. Areas of controversy involve a storm water treatment contract and an Arizona-based company, AbTech Industries, where the son is employed. This investigation is being led by Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, who will present information to a grand jury. There were several Long Island legislators subpoenaed, as this is a wide probe that will address possible corruption in Albany.
The timing of this investigation is troublesome for Albany. The probe of Skelos and his son became the center of attention following the corruption investigation of New York Assembly Speaker, Sheldon Silver, who was arrested in January. The anti-corruption panel, the Moreland Commission, established by Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2013, was tasked with examining the earned income of state legislators. Cuomo disbanded this commission abruptly after he negotiated a budget deal with Skelos and Silver. Nevertheless, Silver is being charged for the unreported millions he made over the past 10 years from a Manhattan law firm.
One area that requires probing by the FBI, which involves Skelos’ son, is his employment as a consultant to the AbTech Industries Company and a lucrative storm-water treatment contract given to AbTech from Nassau County. AbTech Industries did not submit the lowest bid, which is problematic for the senator, who represents Nassau County. There may be a conflict of interest as far as Skelos is concerned. Another issue of major concern is whether or not Senator Skelos has had an influence in matters that would benefit this company or Glenwood Management, a company with political ties to AbTech. It was noted that Glenwood Management is one of the largest campaign donors for the state of New York. Additionally, Skelos’ son received $20,000 from American Land Services, a title insurance company where he has not performed any work.
Skelos is the representative for southwest Nassau on Long Island. He has served in the senate since 1985, and became the majority leader in 2008. It is not clear what his relationship is to his son’s connections. However, his income as a lawyer is being scrutinized and his interests in real estate. A point of interest was the positions Skelos has played in politics. During Cuomos’ governorship, he advocated as an ally for some issues such as, gun control and the state budgets, which was a rare occasion allowing Cuomo to achieve bipartisan support. An area such as public financing of political campaigns, which Skelos did not support, shielded the governor from any criticism when legislation failed.
State disclosure forms have indicated that Skelos’ work at the Uniondale, New York law firm of Ruskin Moscou Faltischek P.C. includes such tasks as corporate and health care, general practice, civil ligation, real estate and general areas of practice. He has earned approximately $150,000 to $250,000. The problem in question pertains to work accomplished. None of the public records indicate that Skelos has represented any of the clients in state or federal court.
The GOP has some grave concerns and will possibly lose its status of control if Skelos is convicted of this corruption scandal. This may present problems for the GOP especially with the 2016 Presidential race.
By Marie A. Wakefield