A source notes that tucked deep into an obscure campaign finance report for Senate Minority Leader John Sampson is a $5,000 expense for a top white shoe law firm, which is representing Sampson in the ongoing Aqueduct Entertainment Group probe.
The Manhattan law firm Thompson, Wigdor & Gilly received the payment in July 2011. It was the first time that an individual member of the Democratic conference has used campaign cash to retain the firm’s services, amidst a federal investigation into the AEG deal, campaign finance records show.
Sampson included the expense in an “off-cycle” report – rather than his normal January filing – for reasons that were not immediately clear.
A Democratic source confirmed that the new $5,000 expenditure was for Sampson’s personal legal fees.
Thompson, Wigdor & Gilly initially represented the Senate Democratic conference as a whole in the ongoing probe into the conference’s behavior in the 2010 bidding out of a $1 billion gaming contract that initially went to AEG.
First, the Senate Democrats spent more than $29,000 in taxpayer cash in early 2010 in an attempt to quash subpoenas related to the probe. Then, during the 2010 election cycle, the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee spent $118,000 more on legal fees — which helped put the conference more than $3 million in debt.
THOMPSON & WIGDOR, LLP
85 FIFTH AVENUE
NEW YORK, NY 10003 5,000.00 CONSL 27-JUL-11 COMMITTEE TO RE-ELECT JOHN SAMPSON 2011 XX F State Senator 19 N/A
In October 2010, after an eight month investigation, the Inspector General’s office released a lengthy report finding that Sampson and other members of his conference had let political considerations guide the decision to award AEG the lucrative racino contract.
The report singled out Sampson for continually stonewalling investigators’ questions. And Senate Republicans used the report, just weeks before Election Day, to win back the Senate. Still, the bid was eventually spiked when AEG was found to be unqualified to receive it.
Last Thursday, former Sen. Carl Andrews, who lobbied for AEG to win the racino rights, lost his bid in the New York Court of Appeals to quash subpoenas for records related to the bidding. Andrews now appears to be essentially out of legal options in fighting the subpoena requests.
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