The allegations against Binghamton based senator Tom Libous could soon turn into an investigation. A state ethics commission has reportedly taken the first steps that could lead to a formal investigation. Our Nick Reisman has more on this developing story.
NEW YORK STATE -- The Joint Commission on Public Ethics has launched a precursor to a possible investigation of Deputy Senate Majority Leader Tom Libous, according to people familiar with a letter the Binghamton Republican received. But the news first reported in the Times Union of Albany was swiftly rebuked by GOP lawmakers.
“Number one, Tom is a good senator, a good person, so I'm sure it's all garbage,” said Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.
The letter from the commission known as JCOPE was prompted by a complaint filed by outgoing Binghamton Mayor Matt Ryan after Libous's name was mentioned in a unrelated federal corruption trial in Westchester. Disbarred attorney Anthony Mangone, a former aide to ex-Senator Nick Spano and convicted perjurer, claimed in testimony that Libous secured a job for his son at a politically connected law firm.
“It's just too fanciful a story to think that Mr. Mangone, a federal witness whose facing up to 45 years if he doesn't tell the truth would come up with this story about Senator Libous unless it has some truth,” said Ryan.
The letter sent to Libous is very preliminary and he is not under a formal investigation, which can only be launched by a vote of the commission's 14 member board.
Meanwhile, Majority Leader Dean Skelos called the initial complaint politically motivated.
“Who sent the initial letter? The mayor of Binghamton: D - Democrat - who is looking to run against Tom Libous, so if this is a political stunt, that's all this is,” Skelos said.
There were also questions Tuesday as to how the letter became public in the first place.
“Whoever from JCOPE who is leaking this is committing a crime,” Skelos said.
Albany doesn't have the best ethics track record, not by far. But the steady drip of new corruption cases has slowed in the last year.
“I think maybe legislators have gotten message that there is this bright line of integrity and that they should not go over that line,” said Barbara Bartoletti, League of Women Voters Legislative Director.