Tenney, Brindisi spar over corruption in Albany, Washington

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The convictions Tuesday of former Senate leader Dean Skelos, as well as of four persons on corruption charges last week relating to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s economic development program have sparked an exchange of comments in the race for Congress between U.S. Rep. Claudia Tenney and challenger Anthony Brindisi.

Tenney, R-22, New Hartford, on Monday called out Brindisi for “his silence on recent federal corruption indictments and his long record of enabling Albany’s corruption epidemic.”

Brindisi, a Democrat from Utica and currently a state assemblyman, in response raised issues about some of Tenney’s practices in Congress and said she was “silent about corruption in Washington....”

The convictions last week involved charges of a corrupt bidding process that steered deals to favored developers for Cuomo’s “Buffalo BiIlion” economic development program.

Among those convicted was Alain Kaloyeros, former president of SUNY Polytechnic Institute, who at one time was a key official in a proposed nanotechnology business project by SUNY Poly’s Marcy campus; an Austrian company was planning a major plant there to be leased from the state, but halted plans in late 2016 amid concerns that the development schedule was falling behind.

The Buffalo corruption charges against Kaloyeros were lodged in September 2016.

Tenney said Brindisi “claims he’s a moderate, independent fighter for the people, but with yet another Cuomo crony convicted on federal corruption charges, Albany insider Anthony Brindisi is exposed again.” She added, “whether it’s the failed Utica Nano project, or voting for Sheldon Silver as (Assembly) Speaker even after it was exposed Silver used taxpayer money to cover up sexual harassment, Brindisi has enabled corruption and failed economic development schemes that have cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars while lining the pockets of Gov. Cuomo’s cronies, self-serving politicians and Brindisi’s friends.”

At the start of Kaloyeros’ trial, Brindisi refused to comment, according to the Tenney campaign announcement. The announcement said Brindisi championed the plan to create a nano center by SUNY Poly’s Marcy campus led by Kaloyeros from the start. It also said Brindisi “pushed for up to $585 million in tax dollars for the failed nano Utica (Marcy) program and was praised by Kaloyeros for his efforts in the project.”

Tenney said “I will stand with taxpayers against the rigged system and the corruption of the political elite. Anthony Brindisi is the poster child for what’s wrong in Albany, and he would make Washington worse.”

However, Brindisi in response said his “record on ethics reform as an assemblyman is clear. I cosponsored a bill to strip public officials of their pensions if they’re convicted of a felony. I pushed for legislation that would prevent ‘pay-to-play.’ I joined a group of young Democrats to call for Sheldon Silver’s ouster when the rest of the party wanted to close ranks.”

He also said he and state Sen. Joseph Griffo “called for Kaloyeros to be replaced back in 2016 when the charges were first announced.”

​Brindisi added that if Tenney were “so concerned about ethics and and corruption, she would return the campaign cash she accepted from Adam Kidan, a former business partner of the infamous lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who pleaded guilty to fraud and conspiracy. She would have spoken out about disgraced EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s rampant abuse of taxpayer money. She would have denounced HUD Secretary Ben Carson for spending tens of thousands in taxpayer money on office furniture.”

Brindisi further said Tenney “can talk about Albany all she wants, but as long as she’s silent about corruption in Washington, why should we believe her calls for ethics reform are anything but a political ploy?”

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