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Saturday, January 16, 2010

As Long As Lawyers Get Paid, Campaign Funds Pay For Criminal Defense

Bruno trial empties $742,458 fund
The Albany Times Union by JAMES M. ODATO - January 16, 2010
Records show money financed the former Senate majority leader's criminal defense

ALBANY, NY -- As he prepares for a private fund-raiser for his legal expenses, former Sen. Joseph L. Bruno can no longer turn to his political campaign fund. His political war chest is barren now, according to the Committee To Re-Elect Senator Bruno's report filed Friday. He drained the account of its last dollar, and actually went $1,044 in arrears. The filing shows $742,458 was spent by the senator in the past six months on fees tied to his unsuccessful defense of federal fraud charges. In all, the senator exhausted about $1.5 million in political contributions, mostly to his campaign, but also from the Senate Republican Campaign Committee, over the past three years, for lawyers and legal services associated with the investigation and subsequent trial. Bruno's lawyer, Abbe Lowell, did not return a message but has declined to speculate on the cost of an appeal. On Tuesday, Bruno will be featured at a fund-raiser hosted by two friends, James Barba, the head of Albany Medical Hospital, and John Nigro, a real estate developer. The Joe Bruno Defense Fund event is aimed at restocking the fund, which has also been used to pay for Bruno's legal expenses.

One lawyer planning to attend said he assumed Bruno would need $1.5 million for an appeal of the two fraud charges he was convicted of in December. Bruno is awaiting a March sentencing. The Bruno campaign filing showed Bruno's expenses mostly went to Lowell's firm, McDermitt, Will & Emery in Washington, D.C. But he also spent $25,000 with Luntz, Maslansky Research, advisers that, among other things, recommend how to own up to your mistakes. There is also an expenditure of $10,000 to DecisionQuest Inc., a trial jury consulting company. The campaign was able to collect almost $25,000 by entities returning past payments to Bruno's campaign, including $8,500 from former New York Racing Association trustee Charles V. Wait, $100 from the Research Foundation of the State University of New York and $61 from Lombardo's Restaurant. Blair Horner, legislative director of the New York Public Interest Research Group, said the political fund should not have been used to fend off prosecution. "We think it's ridiculous. Campaign contributions should be used to run for office not to pay high-priced lawyers to stay out of jail," he said. Bruno resigned from the Senate in 2008. James M. Odato can be reached at 454-5083 or jodato@timesunion.com

7 comments:

disgusted said...

So people donate good money to an election campaign, and those funds get used to defend a convicted criminal. Great system! Wow, we have some really big problems in this state.

Anonymous said...

Paterson is right, the campaign funds laws have to change, that is what gives Senators power and they figure they use that money to influence or payoff others,
if they knew they would loose their home and have jail time, they would think twice before our Senators commit crimes!

Anonymous said...

It doesn't make any sense, Bruno is proving what needs to be changed
Where is Joe's Law!

Anonymous said...

Now that Bruno has been convicted stake his assets like his house and bank accounts. He was never hired to do what he did do.
N.Y State gives them a blank check
Bruno has spent enough money, he can continue to appeal the will of the court and we keep paying for it. I wonder if he was getting a kickback for his legal expenses.
The MTA wants to make cutbacks and the Gov. wants to make cutbacks but the state has money to defend politicians.

Anonymous said...

Lawyers should be paid for results, not failures! Does Bruno get a kick back from the lawyers on this figure?

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See Video of Senator John L. Sampson's 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption

The first hearing, held in Albany on June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:


               Video of 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption
               The June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:
         
               CLICK HERE TO SEE Part 1
               CLICK HERE TO SEE Part 2