The New York Post - EDITORIAL -June 21, 2010
News -- first reported by The Post -- that state Senate Democratic leader John Sampson tipped off a politically wired firm to its rivals' bids to run slots at Aqueduct isn't enough to convict him of anything. Yet. Nor does a second new report -- that Sampson pressed groups dependent on state funding not to testify against a license for his sister's health-care agency -- make him guilty, per se, of a crime. But New Yorkers should be plenty worried, nonetheless: Sampson, after all, plays a key role in dispensing some $135 billion in taxpayer funds. And law-enforcement agents need to get to the bottom of both reports. The firm Sampson tipped off, Aqueduct Entertainment Group, is already mired in scandal, as The Post noted months ago. In January, Gov. Paterson chose AEG to run slot machines at Aqueduct, but the deal soon fell through -- though not through lack of effort by Sampson. He admits he gave the firm's lobbyist documents describing its competitors' bids. AEG then revised its own bid -- and won the contest. "AEG did alter its bid after the deadline for submissions," state Deputy Inspector General Philip Foglia said in an affidavit. "AEG was in possession of information concerning the details of the submissions of other bidders and the evaluation process that was not available to these other bidders," Foglia added. Sampson claims the documents were public, but the IG's office disagrees -- and two of AEG's competitors told The Post they hadn't seen them. Meanwhile, Crain's Health Pulse reported that Sampson "intevened to supress negative testimony" about an agency called Shining Star Home Care -- which is seeking a license and in which his sister, Yvette Henriquez, holds a 20 percent stake. It said Sampson called groups that rely on state funds, pressing them not testify against Shining Star's application. Again, at this point, allegations against Sampson are just . . . allegations. But if they're true, he has no business in the state Senate -- period. And while the state inspector general -- and federal investigators -- are already probing the AEG deal, it's clear that Sampson needs to be a central focus.