Suffolk County Legis. Steve Stern (D-Dix Hills), who is seeking the Democratic nomination to run for Congress, contends a state budget deal that bails out Nassau’s debt-ridden Off-Track Betting Corp. is political payback to its director Joseph Cairo by State Sen. Jack Martins (R-Old Westbury), who is seeking to be the Republican congressional nominee.
Cairo, second-in-command of the Nassau Republican Committee, was the party leader in charge of Martins’ Senate re-election campaign two years ago. Cairo also is the GOP North Hempstead Town leader.
Martins helped negotiate the OTB deal that calls for Genting New York LLC, which operates the Resorts World casino at Aqueduct Racetrack, to pay Nassau OTB millions of dollars annually in return for Nassau transferring its authority to install 1,000 video slots to Aqueduct.
“It’s a fantastic deal,” Martins said when the agreement was announced eight days after Nassau OTB missed a $3 million payment on a short-term cash-flow loan from Manhattan Investment Bank, Roosevelt & Cross.
Stern, who is running for the seat being vacated by Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington), said in a statement,“This is machine politics at its worst and the last thing Congress needs is another politician who puts their friends ahead of the taxpayers. Everyone is pleased there’s no casino in Nassau County, but it’s ludicrous that Jack Martins was able to to take money from the taxpayers and funnel it straight to his political booster. The Belmont Casino was the wrong idea from the start, but the solution is not bailing out the OTB.”
Martins spokesman Chris Schneider said, “Senator Martins just delivered more than $218 million in recurring revenue to Nassau County taxpayers over the next ten years. Too bad for Suffolk residents that Steve Stern doesn’t put as much effort into actually getting something done as he does playing politics. This is a partisan stunt from an obviously desperate candidate trying to get attention for his failing campaign.”
Cairo did not return a request for comment.