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Growing Cloud Of Corruption Raises Questions In Albany

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In the wake of a growing corruption scandal, state lawmakers are insisting that business in Albany will go on as usual, but the cloud over the capitol is raising serious questions about how much governing can take place in this climate. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.

State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins is having a rough week.

The leader of the Democratic Conference in the state Senate saw her predecessor, State Senator John Sampson, arrested on embezzlement and obstruction of justice charges. She also learned that a former state senator wore a wire for the government to record six of her Democratic colleagues.

Nearly all are believed to be under criminal investigation, but state Senator Jose Peralta issued a statement saying he has been assured by the U.S. Attorney's office that he is not a target of their inquiry.

Stewart-Cousins, meanwhile, is trying to put a good spin on the bad news.

"There's been no charges brought," she said. "If there were charges brought, I would certainly do the appropriate thing. There are no charges brought.

Earlier this week, she stripped Sampson of his leadership positions and committee assignments. Sampson pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Stewart-Cousins spoke with NY1 after an event in Yonkers to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Kawasaki-built subway cars. She insisted that having so many of her conference members under investigation is not a distraction.

"It could be a distraction, but for people who are here because we actually know that we're here at the behest of the public to do their business, it won't be a distraction. We are focused on governing, and we will continue to be."

It's not just state Senate Democrats who are facing unwanted attention from the growing corruption scandal. Governor Andrew Cuomo is also being asked whether it will slow down his agenda in Albany.

"Only if you let it, Rick. And I'm not going to let it," he said. "We have to run the state and we have to create jobs and we have to educate children and we have to do economic development, and we have to do that every day."

It is work that arguably just got even tougher.

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