Bruno and Albany Republicans are protesting Paterson's command that state agencies recognize out-of-state gay marriages, claiming it circumvents the Legislature. But didn't Bruno already decline a chance for the State Senate to vote on the issue?
By now, four days into Governor David Paterson's reign, one thing is clear: He never thought he was actually going to be governor. The loosey-goosey (and juicy!) way he's blended his personal and professional affairs don't reflect the kind of care and caution that most people who expect close scrutiny would have used. If this goes on, will Joe Bruno use it to his advantage?
Joe Bruno held a press conference just now, and it was well played. Despite the fact that Eliot Spitzer has basically been up until now his mortal enemy, he didn't rub it in that he was totally right when he told New York earlier this month that the governor was “two-faced. He does not tell the truth." Rather, wearing an expression of weary "I-don't-have-time-for-this-perv" resignation, he discussed the possible transition of David Paterson (with whom he has a "great relationship") into the position of governor and went out of his way to make the point that just because someone decided to defy Lord and country by sleeping with hookers doesn't mean that everyone else was going to stop doing their jobs. "There is no pleasure in what is going on in this state," he said. "This is a distraction of proportions we have never experienced. As for Eliot Spitzer, my heart goes out to his wife and his family. He must deal with his problems in his own way."
Related: How Eliot Spitzer Finally Got Joe Bruno on the Ropes [NYM]
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Eliot Spitzer is still holed up in his apartment in New York, where he and his wife, Silda, have been conferring with advisers since last night. He's weighing his options, and deciding whether to resign. Meanwhile, on the outside, the politicians and the media have descended into exactly the kind of feeding frenzy you would expect:
• The Post reports that State Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno held back from reveling in his great rival's fall: "I feel very badly for the governor's wife, for his children," he said. "The important thing for the people of New York State is that people in office do the right thing."
• According to CNN, Republican state senators and assemblymen (and some Democrats) are aggressively calling for his resignation. So is the Republican Governors Association.
• If Spitzer doesn't resign before a deadline set by state Republicans, they've vowed to begin impeachment proceedings, reports WCBS.
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After the election of Democrat Darrel Aubertine to the State Senate on Wednesday, lines are already being drawn for a battle royal for control of the body in November. Aubertine won in the 48th District, a territory that has been represented by Republicans for the past 100 years. This reduces the GOP stranglehold on Albany to just one seat, which Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno proclaims the party will maintain. "We lost that battle, but we are going to win the war," Bruno said, according to the Post. The way the Albany Times-Unionsees it, the extremely contentious State Senate race this fall will come down to two tactics: fear and frustration.
Democrats will remind voters decades of Republican rule in the Senate have done little to avert the state's rising taxes and sluggish economy. That's the frustration part.
Republicans who backed Barclay have already started warning that, should they lose their majority, New York would be under the control of just one political party, the Democrats. That's the fear part.
Though we haven't been hearing about it as much lately, it turns out the heat is not off Joe Bruno. The FBI has been investigating the State Senate majority leader's outside business interests for nearly two years now, and today we learn that they've widened their inquiry. Several subpoenas were issued to pension funds linked to unions in Bruno's Albany-area district last week. Six local unions have many millions invested with a Connecticut firm, Wright Investors' Service, which employs Bruno for services that they have yet to explain to authorities. The connections were revealed in December by the Times, after which Bruno and the firm quickly severed their relationship. But the FBI's inquiry into union records show that Bruno is far from being off the hook.
The Daily News' Elizabeth Benjamin also reports that the probe is going to weaken the union's traditional support of the powerful state senator. Despite public support for Bruno, one labor leader told Benjamin, "The conventional strategy of many building trades and public sector unions is about to end They've made their bets on Bruno, but it's all unraveling." As the State Senate heads into a battle for control this fall, this could mean big things. Bruno and the state GOP were also banking on a Giuliani national candidacy to rally New York's Republican base to the voting booths in November. Even though Governor Spitzer has been muzzling himself lately, we're betting that these days behind his hand, he's chucking quietly.
Investigation into Bruno Broadens [NYT]
Albany unions support Joe Bruno despite chill of FBI subpoenas [NYDN]
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• The New Republic pulled back on its long-embattled "Baghdad Diarist" series, admitting they could no longer stand behind the author, an army private serving in Iraq. Meanwhile, The National Review suffered its own Middle Eastern credibility scandal and struck back in a novel way: "As one of our sources put it: 'The Arab tendency to lie and exaggerate about enemies is alive and well among pro-American Lebanese Christians as much as it is with the likes of Hamas.'" Yikes. [NYTMixed Media/Portfolio]
• Big layoffs ahead at NBC News? "There are going to be firings very soon — everybody is terrified," according to a "former network insider," who claims tens of millions in cuts will happen in the next two weeks. [Jossip]
• New NBC programming honcho Ben Silverman is looking to clear up a conflict of interest and cash in on his old production company, which Elisabeth Murdoch, daughter to Rupe, is buying for around $200 million. Not bad for a guy who built his career on stealing foreign shows like The Office and Ugly Betty and then repackaging them for the U.S. [NYP]
Over the weekend, 20,000 words were unleashed on the American reading public eager to catch up with Eliot Spitzer. Both competing profiles, in Vanity Fair and the New Yorker, painted a portrait of a governor diminished by, among other things, a hubristic tussle with Joe Bruno, the State Senate majority leader. So, how's Bruno doing?
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As one of the many controversy-spurning agenda items Eliot Spitzer has to deal with, we hear some progress being made in the ongoing discussions with Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno over Bruno's pet issue: the future of the New York horse-racing industry. One source involved in the private talks tells us that the tentative plan is to split up control of each of New York's three horse-racing tracks: Saratoga, Belmont, and Aqueduct. The New York Racing Association (which faces an expiration date at the end of this year) will get to keep control of the track in Saratoga, and thus stay alive. This would help the Spitzer administration avoid a potentially lengthy lawsuit.
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For the past few weeks, we've been hearing what everybody else in Albany thinks of Eliot Spitzer's political moves. His efforts to undermine Joe Bruno by catching him misusing state helicopters or not paying all of his taxes are "dirty tricks" and "smear tactics." But what is the governor thinking about all of this? "Obviously, things haven't worked out precisely as I had planned," says Spitzer. Well, not Spitzer actually, but New York Sun reporter Jacob Gershman, who pens an essay today from the governor's point of view. When we saw the headline, we were expecting something fun and funny, but Gershman's essay turns out to be a sober, well-thought-out analysis of what Spitzer's probably thinking. So logical, in fact, that we're surprised by the end to realize the simplicity of the problem Spitzer's made up for himself.
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Joe Bruno and Eliot Spitzer ran into each other yesterday at a memorial service for firefighters in Albany. It was the first time they had seen each other since their fight over the summer, and as you can see, Bruno acted really grown up about it. Honestly. Even Justin Timberlake and Cameron Diaz had more class when they ran into each other at the Kids Choice Awards, and that was an awkward situation.
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Is Andrew Cuomo already falling victim to his own hubris? The attorney general earned some serious integrity points when he went after Spitzer for the governor's alleged misuse of state troopers in pursuing Joe Bruno. Now, with two of Spitzer's top aides out and the State Senate GOP increasingly subpoena-happy, the case is beginning to seem like self-admiring nitpicking on Cuomo's part. Glenn Valle, the counsel to the state-police chief and current hot-seat occupant Preston Felton, is calling parts of the A.G.'s original report “very misleading or outright wrong.” Even worse, this largely petty skirmish — what are we going to do, impeach Spitzer? Jail Bruno? Publicly hang Darren Dopp and call it a day? — is paralyzing Albany in exactly the ways the administration swore it wouldn't. But Cuomo isn't done yet.
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• One actual result of Troopergate (Brunogate? Spitzergate?): The State Ethics Commission passed a new rule preventing officials from using state aircraft unless the primary purpose of their trip is state business and requiring reimbursement for those parts that are not. [NYT]
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