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Embattled Senate leader Dean Skelos says constituent support is strong: 'They know me. They know I'm honest'

New York Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and

New York Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his son Adam leave Southern District Federal Court in Manhattan after his initial hearing on corruption charges on Monday, May 4, 2015. Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

ALBANY - One day after being accused of corruption, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said he’s receiving strong support from his Nassau County constituents.

“Let me just say, I have never received more positive messages from people in my district as I have today," Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) told reporters Tuesday after attending the annual memorial service in Albany for fallen police officers. "They know me. They know I'm honest. They know I've served them well."

Skelos, 67, and his son, Adam, 32, were arrested Monday on extortion, bribery and conspiracy charges. Federal prosecutors and the FBI said Skelos used his leverage as the New York’s top Republican to strong-arm a real estate developer and environmental company to funnel more than $200,000 to his son, who was somewhat financially dependent on his father’s power and connections.

Skelos said he would “fight them aggressively,” referring to the charges.

“I’m sure we’ll be successful,” the 31-year Senate veteran said, adding that the criminal complaint filed by prosecutors “is nothing more than a press release.”

Skelos said that politicians' children have a right to make a living: "They shouldn't be penalized by the title of their father."

Senate Republicans, after a three-hour closed door conference late Monday, decided to keep Skelos as majority leader. He said members have “confidence that I have done nothing wrong.”

Skelos sought to brush aside Democrats’ contention that he could be used as a punching bag in next year’s elections. He said in the other legislative house, Assembly Republicans never gained ground by attacking now-former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan), who also faces federal corruption charges.

"Let me ask you this,” Skelos said. “When the Assembly Republicans campaigned by attacking Shelly Silver for three years, did they pick up seats or go backwards?"

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