The New York Times ran this story yesterday on a report issued by the state inspector general, detailing a controversial backroom deal struck between the bidders for New York’s first casino, and State Senate leaders. According the report, State Senate leaders showed favoritism in the bid over who would run nearly 4,500 slot machines at a Queens race track, towards the bidder Aqueduct Entertainment Group – which had donated funds to the state’s Democratic Senate Campaign Committee. Due to possible violation of laws, the inspector general’s office is referring its findings to federal and state prosecutors as well as the Legislative Ethics Committee.
The governor’s office is also faulted in the report for having initially supported Aqueduct’s bid for the casino, before reversing their position in March when another group was ultimately selected for the contract.
These ethical violations are just another example of what happens when contracts are negotiated behind closed doors, rather than in an open and transparent way. As we have blogged before regarding ethics reform, these negotiations must be part of a public discussion and not a product of backroom deals.