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Senate Democrats Try To Distance Themselves From Allegedly Corrupt Sampson

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State Senate Democrats are eager to turn the page after corruption charges were brought against their former conference leader, John Sampson. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.

After emerging from their closed door party caucus, it was clear that Democrats wanted to cleanse themselves of john Sampson.

"We have stripped him of his ranking positions, we have stripped him of any committee assignments," Minority Leader Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins said. "He has no role in the conference."

Democrats were reluctant to speak about their former leader and whether or not Sampson's legal status now taints the conference he once led.

"There is no question that it is disturbing to see all of these allegations against colleagues," Queens Sen. James Sanders said. "But we are determined to just get to the business of the people of our districts and how do we get things done."

Sampson was the second African American senator to lead the Democrats and now the second to face federal charges.

Some wondered if the corruption charges were falling disproportionately on African American lawmakers.

"Well I think that if you look over the short term it can appear that way, but we have been having some problems like these over a number of years and I think that there's been a lot of diversity, unfortunately, in the allegations."

"This group have been people of color, but again we have had people who were not of color," Stewart-Cousins said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has outlined a broad anti-corruption agenda, but parts of it will likely face opposition in the legislature.

Cuomo said in a radio interview that he believes these latest allegations make it essential that they act before the end of session.

"The legislature acts when it is clear that there is a need to act. The legislature acts when the people of the state demand action," Cuomo said on WNYC. "I think we are at one of those moments."

There are now two senators who have no conference to caucus with, Sampson and Malcolm Smith, who was kicked out if his conference last month.

The change does not affect control of the Senate, which is still run by a coalition of Republicans and breakaway Democrats.

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