GOP leader wants Aqueduct award investigated
New York state Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos wants to stop Gov. David Paterson’s award of the racino license at Aqueduct racetrack to Aqueduct Entertainment Group.
Skelos, of Nassau County, suggested that the long-awaited selection is tainted with favoritism and electioneering and has demanded Senate hearings, according to a New York Post report.
“This is probably the largest faith-based initiative I’ve ever seen in terms of funding to a group,” said Skelos, referring to Floyd Flake, the former state representative and black minister who is a partner in the AEG consortium. Flake is the pastor of Greater Allen A.M.E. church in Jamaica, N.Y., one of the state’s largest black constituencies.
Flake has not declared whom he would back in a potential Democratic primary between Paterson and Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.
“There potentially could be a conflict of interest,” Skelos said. “The discussions right now have all been behind closed doors. It wasn’t vetted in a public way.”
Skelos also questioned whether AEG has the resources or experience to run a gambling facility.
As outlined by the Post, AEG has several ties to the governor. One of his former top aides was hired as an AEG lobbyist for $7,500 a month. Another investor in AEG, Darryl Greene of the Darman Group, is a former business partner of Paterson ally Senate President Malcolm Smith and was reported to be close to Flake also.
Paterson denied any conflict of interest in his selection.
“I don't think Reverend Flake’s involvement with [AEG] had anything to do with it,” he said. “There was a deadlock. I myself did not have a preference. Time had long since worn out, and I was trying to break the deadlock, and that was the best thing that I could do.”