The big story in Albany these days is the corruption trial of Joseph Bruno, the retired majority leader of the state Senate, and among those testifying this week was Betty Little, the state senator whose district includes most of the Adirondack Park.
The New York Times reports that the trial has shed light on the inner workings of the state legislature, including the doling out of pork. The following excerpt from the Times describes Little’s testimony on Tuesday. Both she and Bruno are Republicans.
In the Senate, as in the Assembly, the largest shares of this pork budget are awarded to the most senior members, like Mr. Bruno, who dole them out to nonprofit groups at home.
But it turns out that Mr. Bruno, who resigned from the Senate in 2008, might have doled out other people’s pork, too. In testimony on Tuesday, prosecutors asked Elizabeth O’C. Little, a Republican state senator whose upstate district abuts the one Mr. Bruno represented, how she became the named sponsor of two job-training grants to Local 773 of the Plumbers & Steamfitters Union, one of the many unions that invested pension money with Wright after being approached by Mr. Bruno.
Looking sheepish, Ms. Little confessed that she had no idea. In fact, she conceded, no one at the union had ever asked her for the two grants, which were for $100,000 in 2006 and $150,000 in 2007. Instead, aides to Mr. Bruno told her that the senator was interested in dispensing the grant and offered to bring her on as a co-sponsor.
Though a public disclosure form for the first grant is dated April 2006, the grant does not appear to have actually been executed until December — some months after Local 773 invested $4 million of pension money with Wright. And though Mr. Bruno and Ms. Little were both listed as sponsors of the grant, only Ms. Little signed the disclosure form.
Ms. Little was asked when, exactly, she signed it. “I don’t know,” she said.
Do you know if it was backdated? “No, I don’t,” she replied.
And why didn’t Mr. Bruno sign it? “I don’t know,” she repeated.