State Senate to continue work after majority leader’s arrest

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The New York State Senate said there will not be any interruptions in business after the Senate Majority Leader turned himself into federal authorities on Monday.

Dean Skelos and his son Adam turned themselves in to federal authorities in Manhattan Monday morning. They later embraced as they walked into federal court with Skelos’ attorney by their side.

There’s a 43-page criminal complaint against Skelos.

Skelos always said he would cooperate with any investigation; however, now he and his son are being charged with six counts of extortion, fraud and bribery. The investigation is centered on Skelos influencing Nassau County to award a $12 Million contract to a company that hired his son as a consultant.

The state senate is confident they will be able to get their work done on time even though Skelos’ arrest will be a distraction. Skelos was one of “three-men-in-a-room” with former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Governor Andrew Cuomo making the budget decisions.

Barbara Bartoletti was a special advisor on the Moreland Commission, an entity created by the governor to investigate public corruption before Cuomo shut it down. She said the political culture of a private decision making process puts too much power in too few hands with no cause of public debate.

“It is a leadership driven legislature, and unfortunately, when all the power is concentrated in the hands of three men, there’s plenty of opportunity to take some of that power and give it back to yourself,” she said.

Bartoletti is currently the legislative director of the NYS League of Women Voters.

“This will certainly upend a lot of the business that needs to get done by the end of session,” she said.

Bartoletti said there needs to be more voter turnout and more attention to holding people accountable.

“We have to figure out one – how to have competitive elections; how to elect good people,” she said. “And two, how to change this quid pro quo pay-to-play type of environment.”

Senator Hugh Farley said he’s supporting Skelos for now. He is not calling for Skelos to step down without an indictment.

“We’re all going to work hard,” he said. “I think we have to work harder. I think that Senator Skelos will get us through this session.”

Several other state senators did not return calls to NEWS10 ABC. Meanwhile, Bartoleeti said the state’s feeble attempts at ethics reforms and campaign finance reforms aren’t working, but the investigations by the U.S. Attorney’s office are working.

“We know that the solution is we just haven’t had the political will to take care of it and get some of this stuff done, and I think Preet Bharara is just pushing the envelope.”

The investigation comes about three months after Assemblyman Sheldon Silver stepped down following his own arrest. Silver is also currently facing federal bribery and fraud charges.

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