New York State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) blasted a TV news report that said the longtime lawmaker is being investigated by the same federal prosecutors that recently charged his Democratic counterpart in the state Assembly.
The NBC New York report, citing anonymous sources, said investigators are looking into Skelos’ income, along with his relationship with the real estate industry. Skelos’ spokeswoman released a statement Friday morning criticizing the report.
“Last night’s thinly-sourced report by WNBC is irresponsible, and does not meet the standards of serious journalism,” the spokeswoman said. “Senator Skelos has not been contacted by anyone from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. As such, we won’t be commenting further.”
Aside from his work in Albany, Skelos serves as counsel at the Uniondale-based corporate law firm Ruskin, Moscou & Faltischek. He regained leadership of the state Senate after Republicans won the majority in the November elections.
The purported investigation comes just a week after the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York rocked Albany’s political circle to its core with the arrest of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Silver, who served as speaker for more than two decades, was accused of using his political power to pad his pockets. Silver is reportedly expected to be replaced Monday.
Skelos is equally as powerful. Along with Silver and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Skelos is part of the influential group known as the “three men in the room.” Together, the trio negotiates the legislative agenda.
The U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan is believed to be conducting a wide-ranging investigation into Albany politics. The probe began after the now-defunct Moreland Commission was unceremoniously shut down by Cuomo last year. Federal prosecutors have reportedly picked up where the commission left off.
Federal investigators have a policy of not confirming or denying the existence of investigations, but Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan leading the Albany probe, told reporters last week to “stay tuned” after Silver’s arrest.