News, views and commentary on Long Island, state and national politics
Feds indict NY Senate No. 2 Republican, son; another blow to GOP
ALBANY -- A federal indictment accuses the state Senate’s No. 2 Republican of lying about a job he secured for his son at a law firm with an “inflated salary” partly paid by an Albany lobbying firm.
Tuesday’s indictment accuses Sen. Thomas Libous (R-Binghamton) of promising a partner of the Westchester law firm that it would have to “build a new wing” to take care of all the business the firm would receive if it hired Libous’ son, Matthew.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara accuses Sen. Libous of promising to steer the business to the law firm and getting an unnamed lobbying firm to pay $50,000 a year to the law firm to help fund Matthew Libous’ salary and perks including a Range Rover vehicle.
Matthew Libous was indicted Tuesday on six counts of charges related to tax evasion.
The indictment of the long time Senate deputy majority leader is the latest of more than 30 cases brought against state officials within the last decade. Last year, Bharara testified before a state anti-corruption panel that: “Public corruption, based on all the evidence, appears rampant. And the ranks of those convicted in office have swelled to absolutely unacceptable levels.”
The indictment accuses Sen. Libous of lying to FBI and Internal Revenue Service agents on June 24, 2010, when questioned about his son’s job. Federal agents claim Libous couldn’t recall when his son began work at the law firm, said no deals were made to get his son the job, and that he wasn’t aware of any payments by lobbying firm to fund his son’s salary.
Libous also told agents he never promised to steer work to the law firm and wasn’t involved in his son’s decision to join the law firm, according to the indictment.
The indictment is the latest blow to the Republican conference trying to hold its last grip of power in the Senate. Last week Democratic Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo who had long been allied with the GOP senators helped broker a deal to unite Democrats into a working majority beginning next year.
The decision would end the Republicans’ share of majority power. Republicans now share majority control with five breakaway Democrats in the Independent Democratic Conference.
Senate Republicans are facing several tough races this year including those on Long Island, which had long been a GOP stronghold. Two veteran Republicans have also chosen not to seek re-election, creating vacant seats that would be easier for Democrats to win.
“I am saddened to learn of the news regarding Senator Libous,” said Senate co-leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) in a statement. “I have always known Tom Libous to be a hardworking and outstanding representative for his district and all of New York State. I have confidence that our legal system will fully and fairly review this matter.”
Skelos wouldn’t say if Libous would remain in the GOP conference. Democrats expelled two of their own from their conferences after indictments, although they continue to serve in the Senate.
Democrats had said they were relieved when Libous, who is fighting cancer, said he wouldn’t again run the Senate Republican campaigns for the first time in several years. Even Democrats praised Libous for his talents as a political tactician.
Matthew Libous is accused of failing to report more than $268,000 in income from 2007 to 2011. The indictment states he reported $475,894 in his tax return in 2011, but failed to report another $122,784.
Matthew Libous was also accused of filing false records as a minority partner in the company Wireless Construction Solutions. The indictment accuses Libous of converting assets from the company to pay for multiple casino trips, vacations, iTunes, a gym membership, an Internet dating subscription, spa treatments, indoor tanning visits, clothing, food and to pay off student loans. He is accused of failing to report the conversion of those funds on his income tax returns.
He is also accused of trying to obstruct the federal investigation. The indictment states Matthew Libous made false entries in the company’s books, filed false income tax returns, and lied to federal agents about his income.
There was no immediate comment from the senator.
The senator and son were scheduled for arraignment Tuesday.
"There was no quid pro quo arrangement with the law firm," the senator said in 2012. "I made no promises and nothing transpired between me or my office and the firm."
Back then, the senator’s name surfaced in an unrelated trial in Westchester. A disbarred attorney named Anthony Magone testified that Libous had pushed to get his son hired at the law firm.