One of Eliot Spitzer’s splashiest economic-development moves after virtually wiping out Republican power in Albany was to cut a deal for a $600 million casino in the Catskills—under the aegis of the St. Regis Mohawks and run by a company, Empire Resorts, that’s repped by an army of GOP operatives. Some insiders in the Indian-gaming game are befuddled. “Why would Spitzer give a deal to a bunch of guys that are Alfonse D’Amato cronies?” asks one consultant. “These are not Eliot’s kind of guys.” On the Empire lobbying dole: Dennis Vacco’s firm (they were fined for an unrelated Indian deal); GOP lawyer Jeff Buley (Al Pirro’s ex-partner); and D’Amato consultant Kieran Mahoney. But D’Amato himself, despite making nice with Spitzer during the campaign, has no connection to this deal, Empire sources claim, and allegedly steered the Mohawks to another gaming company years ago. “D’Amato had nothing to do with this process,” says Empire spokesman Charlie Degliomini (he once did D’Amato’s press). “Now, or ever.”
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