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The Corruption of Andrew Cuomo Part 1:The Aqueduct Racino Bidding Process
I notarized an Affidavit saying that I scheduled meetings for Hank Sheinkopf from January to August 2007, when I quit, and during that time I know that Hank met with Cuomo about Capital Play. Hank, a lobbyist, was paid $12,500/month by Capital Play to first get the race track under their control (from NYRA), and they went for the casino bidding, and the buying of favors. This is a very sad day for New York State, with Andrew Cuomo in the driver's seat.
   Betsy Combier   
Andrew Cuomo should not be Governor. There, I said it. Consider this my last Will and testament, as there is sure to be retaliation from his staff when he reads this.

My purpose here is to expose the untruths of Andrew Cuomo as he tries his best to get his many real estate and wealthy banker friends to cover up his many dealings on the 'dark side', one being the Aqueduct casino bidding scandal. I have NO agenda other than to expose the pattern and practice of corruption and fraud by Andrew Cuomo. Vote for him at your own peril.

My affidavit

Then, today, I read the article below by New York Daily News Reporter Kenneth Lovett, who loves Cuomo and wants you to love him too:

Andy Raps 'Fear' Politics

BALLSTON LAKE, N.Y. - Andrew Cuomo on Saturday openly mocked GOP opponent Carl Paladino and urged New Yorkers to reject what he said are attempts to prey on their fears and anger.

Without mentioning Paladino by name, Cuomo in the waning days of the gubernatorial race suggested his Buffalo flame-throwing foe tanked his own campaign with his bombastic behavior.

"You cannot make this stuff up," he quipped during a rally before 200 supporters in upstate Saratoga County. "My campaign, I just let them talk."

But then becoming more serious and fiery, Cuomo accused Paladino of trying to divide the state along geographic, racial, sexual preference and gender lines.

He cited Paladino's verbal attacks during the campaign on illegal immigrants and gays, in particular, as efforts to "pit one against the other."

"The political calculus was this is a time when people were nervous and people were anxious ... and they were going to prey on that fear, and they were going to prey on that anger."

A new Marist College poll released yesterday shows Cuomo going into Election Day on Tuesday ahead by a 56% to 37% margin.

Paladino, whose slogan is "I'm mad as hell," has vehemently denied being a racist after it was revealed he forwarded racial and sexist emails. He also says his beef is with illegal immigrants, not those in the country legally.

He also has apologized for a recent anti-gay rant, saying he has nothing against the homosexual lifestyle and just opposes same-sex marriage.

"I don't think New Yorkers are buying what Andrew Cuomo's selling," said Paladino campaign manager Michael Caputo. "He's the one who started this whole negative campaign."

Paladino spent yesterday in upstate New York trying to rally supporters. He again accused Cuomo of sparing political cronies like disgraced former Controller Alan Hevesi jail time through selective prosecution during his time as attorney general.

Cuomo, who secured a felony plea from Hevesi and wouldn't say whether he will seek prison time for the former controller, said he is cooperating with the ongoing investigation.

Paladino also tried to tie Cuomo to the recent scandal over the Aqueduct racino bidding process.(emphasis added)

Who is using scare tactics, Mr. Cuomo?

And, Mr. Lovett, what exactly do you mean by your last sentence? Mr. Palladino did not call or contact me, I contacted him; I was promised nothing in return for my exposing the corruption of Andrew Cuomo in the Aqueduct deal-making; and, you did not call me about the information in the Affidavit.

Mr. Bishop: you screamed at me saying that the fact that this sentence was written means that the Daily News does not love Andrew Cuomo, and your news division is NOT the Editorial Board.

Then why, Mr. Bishop, didnt Mr. Lovett place his article into the Editorial page?

Go to this blog for more information about Andrew Cuomo:


More about the Aqueduct deal-making before the public really understood what was going on (using political lobbyists to get powerful people to obtain high stakes multi-million dollar state contracts):

Magna, Churchill Withdraw From Empire Racing
by Tom Precious,, 10/11/2007

A consortium of major horse industry companies vying for the Thoroughbred franchise in New York began falling apart Oct. 10, as Magna Entertainment and Churchill Downs announced their withdrawal from Empire Racing Associates. A third partner, Delaware North, was said to have followed suit, leaving Woodbine Entertainment as Empire's only remaining partner.
The pullout came hours after it was revealed Empire was in negotiations with Australian-based Capital Play to merge their bids for the franchise to run Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga racetracks.
In what could be a major boost for the New York Racing Association to retain its franchise, the Magna and Churchill withdrawal empties Empire of its leading horse racing corporations. Delaware North did not announce its reported withdrawal nor immediately return calls requesting confirmation.
Magna, in a statement, said Empire’s bid was rebuffed in two key stages of the bidding process over the past year, “and the process has progressed in a manner which MEC does not see leading to a successful outcome for Empire Racing.’’
Empire chief Jeff Perlee said the Spitzer administration said it did not recommend Empire for the bid in part because of possible antitrust and other concerns involving Magna and Churchill Downs. Perlee said Empire has a “duty’’ to listen to those concerns by Gov. Eliot Spitzer and said the changes to Empire's composition reflects those concerns. “This can only make us stronger going forward in the competition,’’ Perlee said.
Empire Racing Associates and Capital Play are in what one executive with knowledge of the groups described as “heavy talks” to merge their bids to compete against NYRA and Excelsior Racing Associates for the right to run racing in New York. “It’s a recognition there are synergies that together they can be stronger,” said an executive who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Spitzer recently recommended NYRA be awarded a 30-year franchise extension, a plan that has gotten a cold reception in the Republican-led Senate. Spitzer also wants the state to choose a company to run a video lottery terminal casino at Aqueduct and down the road possibly at Belmont.
The governor has clearly been less keen on Empire Racing and Capital Play, and the new talks among the two bidders appear to recognize that their best shot would be by combining forces. Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno has criticized Spitzer’s plan and said he believes other operators should have a role in the franchise.
Australian-based Capital Play also includes Mohegan Sun and Extell Development Co.
Word of a possible merger came as a Senate racing panel Oct. 10 held a hearing in Albany to take testimony from the bidders on the best business model for the franchise.

In the Senate hearing, NYRA officials were forced to defend the entity’s financial performance, stating what it has done with bailout money from state and its decision to award a no-bid, $125,000-per-month contract to Getnick & Getnick, a Manhattan law firm, to oversee an integrity program at the tracks.
“Don’t count (your) chickens before they are hatched,’’ Senate Racing Committee Chairman William Larkin told NYRA officials after they spoke of the support for the governor’s recommendation for another franchise extension for the group. Larkin also said he did not appreciate what he called “scare tactics’’ by NYRA that racing could end Dec. 31 if a franchise decision is not made by then.
But Charles Hayward, NYRA’s president, said it is beyond NYRA’s control whether racing continues after that date if Spitzer and lawmakers do not resolve the franchise issue by then. He said the judge overseeing NYRA’s bankruptcy proceeding might not agree that the state can step in through the oversight panel to continue racing, especially when the issue of who owns the tracks’ lands are in dispute.
He warned against a “slippery slope with a bad outcome that NYRA and the Legislature might not control.’’
For NYRA’s part, testimony was about building up the organization's bid and raising questions about the financial ability of some of their competitors, chiefly Magna Entertainment.
NYRA Chairman Steve Duncker said the NYRA model – calling for a not-for-profit to run racing – is the best approach because revenues will go to the state, racing operations and purses, and will not have to include shareholders if a for-profit venture wins the franchise.
Lawmakers also raised concerns about how the state’s off-track betting corporations will fit into the future of racing in New York. “They do 75% of the business and we treat them like stepchildren,’’ Larkin said.
Duncker said New York is unique among states in that NYRA faces competition from six in-state OTB corporations, something that wasn’t envisioned when the original NYRA franchise was awarded in 1955.

“If the OTB structure is fixed, NYRA will make money,’’ he said. But no plan has yet to address how OTBs fit into the picture.
One lawmaker, criticizing NYRA’s desire to speed up the bidding process, suggested a need for change in franchise operators. “Maybe like Steinbrenner says, maybe Joe Torre has to go,’’ said Sen. Thomas Libous, a Binghamton Republican.
“Why should we continue with you folks?’’ the lawmaker added.
But some Democrats have said the issue has been studied for more than a year and, like Spitzer, are pushing for resolution of the franchise question soon.
“I hope we move with some haste. I hope we’re not here to just play slow ball,’’ said racing committee member Sen. John Sabini, a Queens Democrat.
Excelsior Racing, whose partners include Las Vegas casino developer Steve Wynn, also appeared at the hearing, despite claims several weeks ago that Excelsior said it was dropping out of the bidding because plans to develop a casino at Belmont are stalled.
“We believe we can run racing in New York and we’ve got the people to do that,’’ said Richard Bronson, a California developer. He added, “Having said that, we also believe we can work with NYRA.’’
Critics of NYRA have long suspected that a deal has been in the works for months to give the racing portion of the franchise to NYRA and award casino and real estate components to Excelsior.
The groups brought out some equestrian stars to pitch their cases. Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey said the prospect of joining up with Excelsior was “like being offered Secretariat to ride; why would I go anywhere else?’’
A bit later, Capital Play showcased jockey-turned-breeder Steve Cauthen. “We need to take a new direction in New York,’’ he told lawmakers.
Later in the day, Marylou Whitney said she has resigned as honorary chairwoman of Empire Racing Associates. She said 14 months ago she was drawn to what had been a "unique colloboration' of top horseracing groups and horsemen. "Today, Empire Racing has evolved into an entity with a vastly different feel and look, one that I no longer recognize.'
Whitney did not endorse another specific group, but said it is time "for the brighest minds in the industry and in government to overcome the politically charged atmosphere that exists to do what is best for racing in New York.'
The day before the hearing, Capital Play wrote to a state government panel overseeing NYRA finances to say it could step in to run the NYRA franchise if no decision is made by Dec. 31. By law, the New York State Non-profit Racing Association Oversight Board can take over the franchise Jan. 1, 2008, if Spitzer and legislators do not agree on a new operator. It could then tap NYRA officials to keep running the tracks, or choose a replacement group on a temporary basis.

“Capital Play is ready to assist in that capacity,” Karl O’Farrell, president of Capital Play, wrote in a letter to Carole Stone, chairwoman of the oversight panel.

September 30, 2007
Ex-Monitor of Horse Racing Interviewed in Bruno Inquiry

ALBANY, Sept. 29 — Federal prosecutors have interviewed the lawyer who oversaw the state’s horse racing franchise as part of their investigation into Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno’s outside business dealings.

The lawyer, Neil V. Getnick, was the court-appointed monitor of the New York Racing Association in 2004 and 2005, when the state’s thoroughbred racetracks were racked by corruption and mismanagement and lawmakers debated how to save them.

Mr. Getnick said the prosecutors interviewed him this year seeking his knowledge on a variety of topics, including Mr. Bruno and Friends of New York Racing, a group with ties to the senator that was seeking to privatize the racing franchise.

Mr. Getnick declined to elaborate on the content of the interviews. But according to a report issued in June by the state inspector general, Mr. Getnick was approached in 2004 by the group’s president, Timothy G. Smith, who sought his blessing for a plan to sell the franchise to private investors. Mr. Smith suggested to Mr. Getnick that the investors had Mr. Bruno’s tacit support, the report said.

Mr. Smith and several of those investors are now partners in Empire Racing Associates, one of four bidders vying to take over the franchise when it expires this year.

In an interview, Mr. Smith said he did not recall making those remarks during his meeting with Mr. Getnick. He declined to say whether federal prosecutors had interviewed him.

Empire executives and Senate Republicans have disputed the contents of the inspector general’s report in recent weeks, calling it biased, and strongly criticized Mr. Getnick.

John E. McArdle, a spokesman for Mr. Bruno, said the senator probably met with Mr. Smith around the time of the meeting with Mr. Getnick, which occurred in August 2004, but that Mr. Getnick’s monitorship had not been discussed. He declined to comment on the federal investigation and dismissed the inspector general’s report. “It’s not worth the paper it’s printed on,” Mr. McArdle said.

Mr. Bruno, the state’s top Republican, has been under investigation by Glenn T. Suddaby, the United States attorney for New York’s Northern District, for more than a year. The investigation and what impact it may have on Mr. Bruno, and on his feud with Gov. Eliot Spitzer, remains a topic of interest in Albany.

So does the future of the racing franchise, which takes in $2.7 billion in bets annually at the Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga Springs racetracks. Mr. Spitzer and Senate Republicans have clashed over the issue, and gaming and horse racing interests vying for the franchise have spent millions on lobbying and public relations to try to win it.

Mr. Spitzer recommended this month that the racing association continue to run the three state racetracks as a nonprofit entity and receive substantial state aide to rescue it from bankruptcy and buttress its financial stability. But Mr. Bruno, who will play a crucial role in shaping the legislation that will ultimately determine who gets the franchise, suggested that other businesses should be given a portion of it.

In recent hearings, Senate Republicans have questioned Mr. Getnick’s findings, issued two years ago and embraced by federal and state officials, that the racing association had largely reformed itself after years of problems. The Senate Republicans and Empire executives have also questioned the association’s recent decision to give Mr. Getnick a no-bid contract to serve as its private integrity consultant.

Empire executives say that the inspector general’s report was unfair because some of its findings were based on interviews with Mr. Getnick and other people with connections to competing bidders for the franchise. Mr. Smith was never interviewed by investigators preparing the report.

“Knowing now that Getnick is on N.Y.R.A.’s payroll, and knowing that that was in the works for some time — to my mind, it’s very much like a mobster putting a federal judge on the payroll after he acquits them,” said Jeffrey Perlee, Empire’s president. “Getnick has a tremendous incentive to make sure that N.Y.R.A. gets another 30 years of life.”

In an interview, Mr. Getnick defended the contract and wondered why Senate Republicans had not invited him to testify on the matter.

“It’s a lot easier to hurl baseless accusations than to outright oppose our successful fight against money-laundering, tax evasion, horse-drugging and race-fixing,” Mr. Getnick said.

He added that the association’s decision to grant him a new contract was prompted by the release of the inspector general’s report in July and by Mr. Spitzer’s subsequent call for the use of enhanced integrity measures for bidders seeking the franchise. The contract was approved by a federal bankruptcy judge.

C. Steven Duncker, the association’s chairman, said the $125,000-a-month contract met state rules and worked out to less than Mr. Getnick’s normal rate. “Neil does this because he believes in it,” Mr. Duncker said.

Mr. Getnick said the inspector general’s report had accurately described his meeting with Mr. Smith in 2004. At the time, Mr. Getnick had been appointed by a federal judge to monitor the troubled racing association and recommend ways to overhaul it.

Mr. Smith was seeking to become the racing association’s next chief executive. During his meeting with Mr. Getnick, the report said, Mr. Smith said he had been working with Churchill Downs Inc., Scientific Games, Woodbine Entertainment Group, and other entities on a two-phased plan to privatize the franchise. Outlining his plan, he said Friends of New York Racing would be set up to push for privatizing the association, and then investors would seek the franchise on terms recommended by the advocacy group, according to the report and Mr. Getnick.

Mr. Smith also suggested that such an arrangement could be beneficial to Mr. Getnick, saying that he had recently played golf with Mr. Bruno, and that he and Mr. Bruno believed Mr. Getnick should continue as the association’s monitor past 2005.

“How do you connect those dots?” Mr. Getnick said. “Well, let me just say those are really big dots requiring an awfully small line.”

But Mr. Smith said he described for Mr. Getnick a “conceptual” discussion intended simply to frame and debate options for saving the franchise. “All I was really pushing was that there be a very high-level, thoughtful review of N.Y.R.A.’s structural problems,” Mr. Smith said. He said the golf game with Mr. Bruno had been arranged by Mr. Duncker and that he had attended because, believing he would be the association’s chief executive, he wanted to make a good impression on legislative leaders. “In no sense was I bragging to Getnick, ‘Joe Bruno and I were talking about you,’” Mr. Smith said.

The association later decided not to hire Mr. Smith, believing that his relationship with the investors posed a conflict of interest. Charles Hayward, who became the association’s chief executive instead, later feuded with Mr. Smith over the franchise’s future. In an interview, Mr. Hayward said he believed the plan described by Mr. Smith was improper. “I think their goal was to get the franchise for a few million dollars, flip it, and sell it for a lot of money,” he said.

Mr. Smith rejected that characterization. “This was meant to be an intellectually honest, policy-driven debate,” he said.

Friends of New York Racing formed in late 2004, with Mr. Smith at its helm and a variety of backers from around the horse racing and gaming industries. They included Jared E. Abbruzzese, an Albany-area businessman and horse owner whose relationship with Mr. Bruno is at the center of the federal investigation.

Later that year, the group arranged fund-raisers for Mr. Bruno and Senate Republicans. Mr. Bruno flew to one of the fund-raisers, held in Kentucky, with Mr. Abbruzzese and others on Mr. Abbruzzese’s private jet.

That travel helped lead to an investigation into Mr. Abbruzzese and Mr. Bruno by the former State Lobbying Commission, records from which were subpoenaed by federal prosecutors last year.

In September 2005, on Mr. Getnick’s recommendation, the federal charges against the racing association were dropped, a step that positioned the association to compete to continue running it.

But financial problems remained. By November 2005, the association was considering declaring bankruptcy, threatening the racing season. That month, Mr. Bruno called Mr. Hayward to a meeting in his office to discuss the association’s future. There, Mr. Bruno criticized the association and its board. By Mr. Hayward’s account, the senator said he wanted the association to move more rapidly in transferring its horse racing franchise and to involve Mr. Smith in the effort.

But Mr. McArdle said that, according to Mr. Bruno’s staff members who were in the room, Mr. Smith’s status was not discussed.

The following month, Friends of New York Racing issued a report, written by Mr. Smith, urging state officials to hasten the sale of the franchise and proposing that it be owned and operated by a for-profit business, with the state as a minority partner, among other recommendations.

“A massive amount of new capital needed to be raised, and the culture of the nonprofit had to be changed, to manage the assets in a much more modern way,” Mr. Smith said in the interview.

The group later dissolved. Some members, including Churchill Downs, Scientific Games and Woodbine, formed Empire Racing Associates with Mr. Abbruzzese and other horse breeders and trainers.

Mr. Abbruzzese sold his stake in Empire in December 2006, shortly after Mr. Bruno announced that he was under federal investigation, and is no longer involved with the group.

Mr. Smith continues to be an investor in Empire, and defends the Friends of New York Racing.

“To say that from Day 1 this was a stalking horse for Empire Racing — that’s just not true,” he said.

© 2003 The E-Accountability Foundation