By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Within those safe district lines is the growing gold coast of Southwest Brooklyn, where the palatial villas of the new Russian entrepreneurs have sprung up. Kruger makes the most of it. His campaign filings are stuffed with $5,000 and $9,500 checks from these local residents. Making it easier for constituents to understand the connection between giving and getting, Kruger has his chief of staff, Jason Koppel, also serve as his campaign treasurer.
As the FBI tapes show, the nightclub owners along Coney Island Avenue understand this connection well. A couple of years ago, yet another club, the Heaven Resto Bar/VIP Lounge (not to be confused with Heaven Nights down the street) happily hosted a birthday party for the senator. The club operator here is a famous Russian singer named Avraam Russo who donated $8,000 to be one of Carl's friends, plus $3,500 worth of food. The party included a floor show by the fabulous acrobat Leonid the Magnificent, who, when he is not doing stunts, is fond of dressing in sequins, feather boas, and a small leather thong. At the senator's birthday party, Leonid performed in a skin-tight white Lycra outfit.
Photos show Kruger in a front-row seat hugely enjoying the show. These pictures were later circulated by gay activists who claimed that Kruger, who voted against the gay marriage bill in the Senate, is a closeted homosexual, happy to frolic at gay clubs while denying his own true self. Kruger complained about this unfair inference and rightly so. Those who know him well insist that he is more neutral than partisan in the sex wars, although he is single and cohabits with a female friend in one of those expensive waterside villas in his district.
The senator's strongest passion appears to be playing with his campaign war chest. He spends his surplus donations on a steady stream of indulgences, ranging from expensive steakhouses to Chinese restaurants and trinkets at Home Depot. Recently, he plunked down $512 for something supremely useful in his effort to get even closer to his wealthy constituents: a computer program to help him learn Russian, the easy way.