Man Believed at Center of Skelos Indictments Has History of Campaign Donations

The man believed to be at the center of the latest indictment against former State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his son, Adam, is a major political donor who has given to both parties for years. Zack Fink filed this report.

In March, Businessman Anthony Bonomo gave $50,000 to Governor Andrew Cuomo's political committee. Just a few days later, Cuomo appointed him head of NYRA, the New York State Racing Association.

Bonomo also was a heavy donor to then Senate Majority leader Dean Skelos, who, with his son Adam, was charged with corruption by the U.S. Attorney. Bonomo took a leave of absence from NYRA in June, after Skelos and his son were first indicted.

"The big donors give to everyone," said Dick Dadey of Citizens Union. "They raise money for everyone and they give to everyone largely because they want to make sure that the issues they have before the government receive attention."

Bonomo owns Physicians Recipricol Insurers, or PRI, a medical malpractice firm. GOP sources said it was PRI that hired Adam Skelos in a no-show job and it was Adam's behavior there that led to a new round of charges last week against both men. The two Skelos men pleaded not guilty Thursday.

Bonomo has been donating heavily to state lawmakers in both parties since 2000.

"The individual, Anthony Bonomo—his friends and relations including his spouse and likely his children as well as professional associates and the businesses he operates, are themselves substantial donors accounting for $2.7 million just that I've found in the last 15 years," said John Reznick of Competitive Advantage Research.

There were 126 separate contributions, many of them through Limited Liability Corporations, or LLCs, a way of giving that has drawn outrage from reformers.

"Today, in the state, if you want to give unlimited contributions and hide that fact, the LLC loophole lets you do it," said Daniel Squadron, State Senate. "Again and again we see the LLC loophole linked to the worst corruption allegations that come out of Albany."

Bonomo also spent heavily on state lobbyists.

"PRI was very active in their lobbying, they spent more than a million dollars lobbying since 2007 alone," said Reznick.

An attorney for Bonomo said he is cooperating with federal investigators.

As long as Republicans remain in control of the State Senate, campaign finance reform will remain a very steep hurdle. Not only are they ideologically opposed, but they said it would be a tremendous drain on taxpayers. Even Governor Cuomo has given up the fight, at least for now. 

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