Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Skelos Trial: Cuomo Administration Gave Job To Donor's Son After Campaign Donation

This isn't "new" news, as Newsday reported it back in the spring, but it is interesting to see it surface in the Dean and Adam Skelos trials:

Back in June, Yancey Roy at Newsday reported this:

ALBANY - The son of Anthony Bonomo, a prominent insurer linked to the federal investigation of Sen. Dean Skelos and who until days ago led the New York Racing Association, began working for the Cuomo administration last year, state records show.

Anthony Bonomo Jr. started in 2014 as an executive assistant for the Office of Storm Recovery, which was launched by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to help residents rebuild after superstorm Sandy and other recent hurricanes. Bonomo, who handles constituent services on Long Island, was hired for the $55,000-per-year job in May 2014, a spokeswoman said.

"Anthony is a hard worker and a smart young man who has done terrific work for the Office of Storm Recovery," said Barbara Broncaccio, agency spokeswoman.

Bonomo's father runs Physicians Reciprocal Insurers, a Roslyn-based medical malpractice carrier that holds about 25 percent of the market, according to reports. The Manhasset resident also is a significant campaign contributor and racehorse owner who, until Tuesday, chaired the New York Racing Association, which operates Belmont, Aqueduct and Saratoga tracks.

Federal prosecutors have alleged that Skelos (R-Rockville Centre), the former state Senate leader, tried to "monetize" his political power by getting payments and a job for his son, Adam, from a developer, an environmental firm and a malpractice insurer. Among other things, prosecutors alleged that the senator arranged a $100,000 per year "no show" job with a medical malpractice insurer. Skelos and his son have pleaded not guilty.

Though Physicians Reciprocal wasn't named in the indictment, a company spokesman said it has been contacted in the probe and has been cooperating with investigators. It has not been accused of wrongdoing.

Newsday previously reported that state lawmakers tucked into this year's state budget an extension of an exemption that helps malpractice insurers such as Physicians Reciprocal.

In July, Zack Fink gave much context to the "Bonomo Connection":

Anthony Bonomo, described by one insider as “just one of those guys everyone in state government knows,” is believed by many to be cooperating with U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s case against former State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his son Adam. The Skelos’ pleaded ‘not guilty’ yesterday to a superseding indictment unveiled last week that contains two new charges. Specifically, that Adam Skelos threatened his supervisor who confronted him about not showing up to work. The arrangement seemed to be that Adam got a no-show job in exchange for the elder Skelos steering state money the firm’s way. That firm ( although not named ) is believed to be Physicians Reciprocal Insurers’ or PRI, owned and operated by one Anthony Bonomo.

What is less known is just how extensive Bonomo’s ties are to state government. According to Competitive Advantage Research, Bonomo, his associates and affiliates are responsible for 126 filings over the last 15 years. The campaign contributions spread across party lines and totaling $2,719,240.93. That’s a lot of dough. Jon Reznick of Competitive Advantage explains the breakdown:
“The individual Anthony Bonomo, his friends and relations including his spouse and likely his children as well as professional associates and the businesses he operates are themselves substantial donors accounting for $2.7 million just that I’ve found in the last 15 years.”
In addition, Bonomo has hired big time lobbyists including former Senator Al D’Amato, Founder and Managing Director of Park Strategies. According to Reznick’s analysis, Bonomo and associates have spent $1,550,500 since 2007.

According to the latest indictment, Adam Skelos threatened his boss with physical violence after being challenged about his failure to show up for work. Someone then called Dean Skelos ( sitting Senate Majority Leader at the time ) to try and explain the problem and work something out. At least one GOP source believes the only person who could have made that phone call was D’Amato, who could not immediately be reached for comment.

So, here is the timeline from which you can draw your own conclusions: In March, Bonomo gives a $50,000 contribution to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s campaign committee. A few days later, Cuomo appoints Bonomo the head of the New York Racing Association or NYRA ( a job that people close to the Administration insist he was qualified for, since he was very knowledgeable of horses and racing. Fair enough ). About a month later, Skelos and his son are slapped with federal corruption charges. And in early June, just four days before the Belmont Stakes – one of the biggest days in racing – Bonomo steps down from his position at NYRA, and presumably starts cooperating with the Feds against Dean and Adam. A month after that the new indictment drops with two new charges including personal details about Adam’s behavior. This signaled to some that federal investigators were likely getting information from Bonomo which helped build the second set of charges.

Now a question a reasonable observer might have is, how is it different when Dean Skelos presses Bonomo and PRI for a job for his son in return for favorable legislation to keep the company afloat and the Cuomo administration hires Anthony Bonomo's son for a $55K a year state job after dad gives $50,000 to Cuomo's campaign coffers?

Bonomo's got a non-prosecution agreement with the feds for the Skelos case, so he faces no charges for being part of the alleged quid pro quo.

US Attorney for the Southern District Preet Bharara was in the courtroom yesterday when Bonomo admitted on cross examination that his son got a state job after he gave Cuomo $50K, so clearly the feds are aware of that little doozy.

Now whether they choose to follow up on it, that's a whole other matter.

But it's just one more example in a long line of examples of Andrew Cuomo's donors getting preferential treatment from the state before and/or after giving campaign money to Cuomo or to entities linked to Cuomo (like the State Democratic Party or the Committee To Save New York, the shadowy PAC that pushed Cuomo's agenda early in his governorship but was shut down after the law changed and required PAC's like CSNY to reveal their donors.)

The impression a reasonable observer would get is, well, I think Steve McLaughlin put it best:

1 comment:

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