As you may know, I’m a bit of a New York State jukie, but this story (via TAP) about the vast riches and waste of recently indicted “Uncle Joe” Bruno’s NY Republican Senate empire should appeal to a wide audience.
Just to put this in perspective — the New York State Senate had a budget of $100 million, spent almost entirely by and on about 35 Senate Republicans (who were the majority party until very recently). Bear in mind that the State Senate was viewed as the most corrupt and wasteful branch in what may be the most corrupt and wasteful state government in the country. Nevertheless, some of the stories of Uncle Joe’s largesse are stunning:
They recently realized there are some 75 employees working at the Senate’s own printing plant, a plain brick building on the outskirts of Albany. On Long Island, they found a small television studio, which had been set up — all with public money, with two press aides on hand to help operate it — for the exclusive use of Republican senators to record cable TV shows.
Democrats also came across what they are calling the “Brunomobile,” a $50,000 specially outfitted GMC van, with six leather captain’s chairs (some swiveling), a navigation system, rearview camera and meeting table. Joseph L. Bruno, the former Senate majority leader who was recently indicted on corruption charges, traveled in the van after his use of state helicopters sparked a feud with the Spitzer administration.
Then there are the parking spots, always at a premium near the Capitol. Democrats had been given roughly one spot per senator — there were 30 Democrats last year — and guessed there were perhaps double or even triple that controlled by the majority. Instead, they have learned, there are more than 800.
And Democratic leaders must determine what to do about 45 workers toiling away in a building close to the Capitol who appear to have been engaged in quasi-political research for the Republicans.
“Every time we nail something down, we uncover another rock and there’s another 30 people there — it’s all over the state,” said Angelo J. Aponte, who as the new secretary of the Senate is the top aide to Malcolm A. Smith, the Queens Democrat who became majority leader last month.
In effect, NYS tax payers were putting 6 bucks a piece into Bruno’s slush fund for this kind of bullshit. Amazing.
Update: Per the comments, I should have included this:
Rich Azzopardi, a spokesman for Senator Craig M. Johnson — who had been the lone Long Island Democrat until November’s election — said he had heard “vague rumors” about the existence of the facility. He guffawed when asked if Mr. Johnson had ever been invited by the Republicans to use it.
“No,” Mr. Azzopardi said, “I don’t believe they ever gave us the password that shut down the waterfall to enter the cave leading into the studio.”