Monday, March 14, 2011

More shocking than Kruger's $500,000 gift to Bruce Bender's pet project is the Senate leadership's willingness to let Bender allocate funds himself

Though state Senator Carl Kruger has certainly helped developer Forest City Ratner over the years, and the charges described last week certainly put that help in a new light, the federal complaint does not show Kruger allocating funds to the developer.

Sure, he seemed willing, but he didn't have enough money, so what he did have went to a Prospect Park project requested by Forest City Ratner Executive VP Bruce Bender.

That might be seen as much as helping an old crony as anything else.

Senate leaders bend to Bender?

Still, another look at the complaint suggests some shocking--at least to those who believe what they learned in civics class--behavior from a Senate staffer, apparently at the behest of "Senate Leader #1."

Who's that? Apparently Senator John Sampson (as identified in news coverage), who has had supporters use Forest City Ratner offices for a fundraiser.

That staffer was willing to essentially outsource government "pork" directly to Bender, letting the real estate executive allocate money "as he saw fit."

Thus Sampson's condemnation of Kruger, as reported, seems a little hollow:
“These are serious charges and it is inappropriate to comment further on an ongoing legal matter. Senator Carl Kruger has been removed as ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee effective immediately,” said Sampson spokesman Austin Shafran.
The overt acts

Consider one of the "overt acts" that are part of the conspiracy:
On or about December 28, 2010, at approximately 4:47 p.m. CARL KRUGER, the defendant, directed a Senate staff member to allocate to a client of RICHARD LIPSKY, the defendant, approximately $500,000 in state funds that KRUGER controlled.
That's the money that went to the Lakeside project at Prospect Park. It didn't actually go to a client of Lipsky. Rather, it went to a project favored by a top staffer of that client.

In the phone call


The role of Senate leadership emerged in that that 4:47 p.m. phone call.

During that call, as indicated in the excerpt at left, Kruger asked the staff member if he had any discretionary money left, and the staff member said there was $500,000.

As the complaint relates it:
Kruger then instructed the Senate Staff Member to put that $500,000 toward the Vice President's Park project, which would make the total state funds allocated to the park project $4,500,000.

The Senate Staff Member said he understood that they made a commitment to the Vice President, and it was important to put a "down payment" on the Vice President's projects, so the Senate Staff member's "recommendation" was to give the $4 million to the Vice President for him to allocate as he saw fit.
That didn't happen.

As the call continued, Kruger himself directed the money to the park project, telling the staff member that it was his recommendation to do so.
kruger-carl-et-al-complaint

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