Eliot Spitzer hasn’t been publicly heard from on the topic of Joe Bruno’s conviction but it’s a safe bet that the ex-gov is wearing a satisfying “told-you-so” smile.
Before his own randy escapades brought him down, the former prosecutor-turned-politician was engaged in hand-to-hand combat with the then Republican state senate leader. The nastiest incident involved the much-investigated alleged leaks from Spitzer’s office of details on Bruno’s routine use of state aircraft on political trips.
Now comes a new report from the indefatigable James Odato of the Albany Times-Union, whose freedom of information request on Bruno’s high-flying ways back in 2007 sparked all the fury.
It wasn’t just politics, reported Odato in Sunday’s T-U: The senate boss also used state airplanes and helicopters to meet his high-paying private consultant clients.
On October 26, 2004, for instance, Bruno used a state-police piloted helicopter to fly from Albany to the city. State troopers picked up Bruno and three aides and drove them to the Palm West steak house to meet Jared Abruzzesse, the millionaire telecommunications mogul and state horse racing bidder who paid Bruno $440,000 in consultant fees from 2004 to 2006. It was Bruno’s lucrative dealings with “Jerry A” – as his pals dubbed him – that resulted in the two conviction counts against the 80-year old ex-senator.
Bruno also used state helicopters “at least twice” writes Odato, to meet another client, trucking magnate Russell Ball who paid the then-senate leader $270,000 for his business advice. On an October, 2004 trip, Bruno flew to New York and met with Ball and three business associates at the Sheraton Hotel.
A Bruno spokesman offered the same response that the ex-pol tried with the jury: Everything was legal: “State business was conducted on every trip using the helicopter,” said Kris Thompson.