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Sheldon Silver, Dean Skelos trials spark concern about corruption, poll finds

Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan), left, and

Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan), left, and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, (R-Rockville Centre) in Albany in June 2012. Credit: AP / Tim Roske


— A new poll shows New Yorkers are just as concerned as ever about corruption in Albany, but that even after the historic trials of two former top legislative leaders this month, they don’t seem to be paying much attention.

The Siena College Research Institute poll released Monday also found 66 percent of New Yorkers agree with Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman that online fantasy football games such as FanDuel and DraftKings are illegal gambling, rather than games of skill as the companies insist.

A court will soon decide if online fantasy sports that offer large cash prizes constitute illegal gambling. But even if the companies lose, legislators are already preparing bills that would allow the huge enterprise to continue in New York with regulation, like horse racing and the lottery.

The poll also found 52 percent of New York voters oppose allowing refugees from Syria, many of them Muslims, into the United States at this time. Seventy-eight percent of Republicans opposed allowing the refugees to enter the United States. Fifty percent of Democrats opposed allowing them in.

As for this historic period in New York politics, the poll found nearly 90 percent of voters said they are somewhat or very concerned about corruption in Albany. That’s about the same level as usual.

But the poll also showed 52 percent of voters didn’t follow the trials of former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) closely or at all. Both were convicted on federal corruption charges in the last two weeks after extensive news coverage.

Thirty percent of voters said they still didn’t know enough about Silver to have an opinion of him, although he was one of Albany’s most powerful political figures for 20 years.

The poll found 53 percent of voters didn’t know enough about Skelos to have an opinion of him. He and his son, Adam, were convicted Friday.

“People tend to focus on the issues that matter to them the most: Their kids’ education, parent’s health care, job, paying the rent or mortgage, etc.,” said pollster Steven Greenberg. “They also tend to pay attention to the big, global issues, like terrorism. . . . We also see this reflected in voting patterns. Fewer than half of eligible voters voted in the last gubernatorial election.”

The poll was conducted Dec. 6-10, ending just before the conviction of Skelos but after Silver’s conviction. The poll questioned 822 voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

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