Long before state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos was arrested and charged with abusing his position in order to financially benefit his son Adam, concerns were raised by another prominent New York Republican, former U.S. Sen. Al D'Amato, who took the witness stand Friday in their ongoing corruption trial. Bobby Cuza filed the following report.
Former state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos is on trial for strong-arming companies with business before the state into giving work to his son Adam.
As it turns out, former U.S. Sen. Al D'Amato, whose relationship with Dean Skelos goes back decades, also considered hiring Adam at his high-powered lobbying firm, Park Strategies. But testifying at the Skeloses' ongoing corruption trial Friday, D'Amato said he and other partners at the firm shot down the idea.
"I thought the appearance would be one that in and of itself would raise questions about conflicts," D'Amato testified. "Under no circumstance could we bring him in as part of the firm...The appearance of impropriety was such that we could not work together."
Through his dad's connections, though, Adam landed work elsewhere, including at a major Long Island-based medical malpractice insurance firm, where Adam rarely bothered showing up for work and at one point, physically threatened his supervisor. That insurance firm was also a D'Amato client, and when he learned of the situation, he went to see Dean Skelos. At a meeting in April 2013, he said on the witness stand, Dean showed no interest in remedying the situation.
"He told me that Adam really needed the job. That his wife, I believe, was expecting. That he needed the medical insurance," D'Amato siad.
Later, D'Amato said, Dean asked him to give Adam some advice. Upon learning of Adam's political consulting work, he told him he might have to register as a lobbyist. Adam never did.
Outside the courthouse, D'Amato said he had feelings for the Skeloses, but offered little more.
"I have no comment about my thoughts on the trial," D'Amato said.
Also taking the stand Friday was Rob Walker, deputy to Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano. Walker described how Dean Skelos pressed the county to expedite a contract with AbTech, a water filtration company that also employed Adam.
With the prosecution expected to rest its case on Monday, an attorney for Adam Skelos told the judge on Friday that he will not testify in his own defense. It has not yet been decided whether Dean Skelos will take the stand; his attorney must advise the court either way by Saturday night.