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Queens Chronicle

Independent Dems reject Smith again

Embattled senator kicked out of group first formed to oppose him

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Posted: Thursday, April 25, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 10:51 am, Thu May 2, 2013.

State Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-Hollis) has been kicked out of the small coalition of breakaway Senate Democrats who first joined forces a few years ago to break away from the short-lived Democratic majority leadership.

One of those leaders was Malcolm Smith.

Sen. Jeff Klein (D-Bronx), leader of the Independent Democratic Conference, announced last week according to several published reports, that he has banished Smith from the caucus.

Klein, leader of the group that has a power-sharing agreement with Republican Leader Dean Skelos (R-Nassau), had previously stripped Smith of his leadership position, committee memberships and accompanying bonus pay shortly after the senator’s April 2 arrest on federal corruption charges.

Various published sources report that Smith also has been reassigned to a new seat in Albany’s Senate chamber, the most distant from the floor — the one assigned to former Sen. Carl Kruger (D-Brooklyn) before Kruger went to prison last year following his conviction on corruption charges connected with some now-defunct Queens hospitals.

In its alliance with Republicans, the IDC wrested control of the Senate from the Democrats, who were elected to a nominal majority back in November.

Smith and City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) were among six arrested in an alleged scheme by which Smith was attempting to buy his way to the Republican ballot for mayor.

The U.S. Department of Justice alleges that Halloran took $45,000 in bribes either directly related to Smith or offshoots of the original alleged scheme.

Smith allegedly was seeking so-called Wilson Pakula certificates from at least three of the city’s five county Republican chairmen to allow him to run for mayor this year on the GOP line.

Former Queens County Republican Vice Chairman Vince Tabone and former Bronx GOP Chairman Joseph Savino were forced to resign following their arrests, allegedly aided by a cooperating witness and an undercover FBI agent who was posing as a wealthy real estate developer.

The agent and the witness wore listening devices during conversations and transactions that are alleged to have taken place.

Smith allegedly promised to secure state transportation funding that would help a development project the agent proposed.

Halloran, among other allegations, was to serve as a middle man between Smith and Republican leaders.

All four, plus Mayor Noramie Jasmin and Deputy Mayor Joseph Desmaret of upstate Spring Valley were indicted by a federal grand jury last week.

Smith and Halloran remain in office, though Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) has stripped Halloran of most of his powers, including the ability to dole out funds to community organizations.

Queens Democratic leaders did not respond to an inquiry as to whether they think Smith should resign.

Smith’s attorney, Gerald Shargel, has not returned numerous calls to his Manhattan office seeking comment.

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