Dean Skelos

Karen Dewitt / WRVO News file photo

Audio recordings released by the U.S. attorney’s office at the corruption trial of Sen. Dean Skelos aim to show that the former Senate leader and his son colluded to use Dean Skelos' official position to help his son get employment, in what turned out to be a succession of no-show jobs. But the phone recordings paint a revealing picture about how Albany really works behind the scenes.

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The New York State Legislature is seemingly back to business as usual, with majority parties holding planning meetings and the new session set to begin right after the holidays. But there has been little public discussion about a corruption crisis that has led to the two most powerful men in the Legislature both on trial in federal court this month.

It’s almost as though they’re taking place in two parallel worlds. In federal court in Manhattan, former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former Senate Leader Dean Skelos are both on trial for corruption.

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Republicans and Democrats in the New York state Senate both have victories to point to in last night’s election results.  

Following a landslide win, former Broome County Sheriff’s Deputy Fred Akshar became one of the two newest members of the State Senate.

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The former leader of the state Senate was formally indicted on federal corruption charges Thursday. Sen. Dean Skelos resigned as leader earlier in May after the accusations against him were announced by the U.S. attorney.

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The new leader of the New York State Senate, John Flanagan, replaced Dean Skelos, who is facing corruption charges. On day two in office, Flanagan says he does not expect any major new reform legislation to happen before the end of the session.

Flanagan says he does not think that further ethics reform will be enacted in the remaining weeks of the legislative session, despite an ongoing corruption scandal that cost his predecessor his job.

Senate Leader Dean Skelos has resigned his post, over a corruption scandal, and Republicans have elected Sen. John Flanagan, currently chairman of the Education Committee to be his successor.

Flanagan, a Republican from Long Island, a GOP stronghold in the Senate, became the new leader of the Senate with a unanimous floor vote from his Republican conference.

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Dean Skelos has resigned his position as New York State Senate majority leader after his arrest on federal corruption charges. He becomes the latest leader to lose his power in a state government marred by corruption.

Sen. John Flanagan of Long Island was elected by his fellow Republicans, beating out Syracuse-area Sen. John DeFrancisco.

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State Senate Republicans have been huddling behind closed doors, trying to resolve a leadership crisis now that Majority Leader Dean Skelos has lost the support of his GOP members, after being charged with six federal counts of corruption.

Sen. John DeFrancisco, a Syracuse-area Republican who’s been running to replace Skelos, says first, the leader would have to resign, and that is not yet guaranteed.  

“I have not talked to Dean; not anybody that I’ve talked to has a clear answer on that,” DeFrancisco said.

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State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, who was arrested last week on federal corruption charges, is expected to step down from his leadership position later today, according to multiple reports. 

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Syracuse-area state Sen. John DeFrancisco says he would be shocked if the uncertainty over the leadership of the New York State Senate lasts another week.  Senate Majority leader Dean Skelos was arrested Monday on federal corruption charges.  

Initially, lawmakers agreed to support Skelos. Since then, there has been a growing number of Republican senators publicly calling for him to resign his leadership post.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in his first public comments since the leader of the New York State Senate was charged in an extortion and bribery scheme, says if true, he finds the accusations “disturbing.”

Cuomo, speaking at an event in Syracuse, commented for the first time since Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos was charged with six counts of public corruption.

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Central New York Republicans are weighing in on the scandal surrounding the New York State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos scandal.  

Onondaga County GOP Chairman Tom Dadey is calling for Skelos to resign, so state government can get back to the people’s business, instead of what he calls wasting tax dollars and time defending the Long Island Republican.  

Matt Ryan / WMHT

Major newspapers in New York state have posted editorials calling for Senate Leader Dean Skelos to resign after the senator and his son were accused of running a corruption scam. But so far, Skelos is hanging on and Republicans are trying hard to carry on business as usual.

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Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, who turned himself in to federal authorities on corruption charges Monday, will remain as the head of the Senate, his republican members announced after a more than three hour closed door meeting Monday night.

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The leader of the New York State Senate, Dean Skelos, surrendered to federal authorities Monday morning and was charged with six counts of corruption, including bribery and extortion, in connection with an alleged scheme that used his political position to enrich himself and his son.

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The final stretch of the New York state legislative session began as more accusations arose about potential wrongdoing by top legislative leaders.

The session began with a closed door meeting by Senate Republicans, the first time that the majority party members met together since the publication of a New York Times report that says federal prosecutors are investigating Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, and his son, for possible corruption.

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The New York state legislature returns for the second half of the legislative session, once again under a cloud of corruption, and with numerous unsettled issues.

The session begins Tuesday, after the spring break, and this time it’s the leader of the Senate who is the focus of a federal corruption probe. State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos confirmed that he’s the target of an investigation, after The New York Times reported that U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara has convened a grand jury that is looking into some of the senator’s business dealings, as well as those of his son.

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State lawmakers have not yet finished the budget, but they are already getting blowback from a provision that would give a tax break to owners of luxury yachts.

The budget includes a sales tax break for purchases of boats worth more than $230,000, as well as for private airplanes. That angers Ron Deutsch, of Fiscal Policy Institute,  a union backed think tank that backs Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to give a property tax break for middle and working class homeowners who pay too much of their income on taxes.

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State lawmakers planned to hold meetings throughout the weekend as they put the finishing touches on the state budget. But, a couple big issues remain unresolved.

Senate Republicans are trying to modify Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to require full disclosure of law clients in legislators’ outside business.

Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos, who works part-time at a private law firm, says he expects to agree on a “robust” new disclosure law, but concedes that it may only apply to new law clients, not existing business arrangements.

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 There’s just about a week-and-a-half left before the budget deadline, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers remain at odds over a number of issues, including whether ethics disclosure rules should apply to the governor as well as the legislature. They also disagree on a number of education reform proposals.

On Thursday, the Senate and Assembly called a public budget conference meeting. It lasted less than two minutes, and focused mainly on listing when subconference committees would meet and the relatively small amount of money they could haggle over.

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Legislative leaders say despite their differences with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, they intend to continue their streak of on time budgets by approving the spending plan on time for the fifth year in a row.

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The New York State Assembly and Senate are each rejecting key proposals in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget. Both chambers are submitting what's called one-house budgets -- their counter proposals to the governor's spending plan.

In the Assembly, where Democrats hold the majority, the one-house budget does not include Cuomo’s education tax credit, which would allow donors to give money to the private or public school of their choice and receive nearly full credit for the donation on their state taxes.

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Newly-elected Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie made clear one of his top priorities in his first news conference, where he called for passage of the Dream Act, which would offer college aid to children of undocumented immigrants.

Heastie says when it comes to helping young New Yorkers with paying for college, there’s a double standard.

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Budget talks began Wednesday, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo met behind closed doors with legislative leaders to discuss school aid, economic development proposals and ethics reform. Cuomo’s push to reform practices in the legislature comes at a time when his nearly $1 million book deal is coming under closer scrutiny.

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Republicans in the New York State Senate are in talks with Gov. Andrew Cuomo about legislative ethics reforms as demands for changes mount after the recent arrest of the former Assembly speaker.

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos of Long Island said Tuesday that the goal of the negotiations with Cuomo is "full transparency and strong ethics laws" modeled on effective laws in other states.

The debate hinges on possible limits on the income lawmakers can make from outside jobs - an idea popular with Democrats but opposed by Republicans.

governorandrewcuomo / via Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is pushing his latest plan for ethics reform in appearances all around the state, following the arrest of the former Assembly speaker on corruption charges. But questions remain whether he will have any more success this time than a deal last year that ended in the shuttering of a corruption commission. Cuomo is once again crusading for stronger ethics laws, now that former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, charged with running a massive corruption scheme, has resigned from his post and been replaced.

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The New York State Senate and Assembly met in Albany to choose new leaders and begin outlining their plans for the 2015 session. The year begins with Republicans in full control of the state Senate, but with a group of breakaway Democrats still enjoying special status.

The State of the State has been delayed for two weeks, due to the funeral of former Gov. Mario Cuomo, the father of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. But under New York’s state’s constitution, the legislature is still required to convene.   

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The leader of the state Senate Republicans says his members will once again join forces with a group of breakaway Democrats to rule the Senate come January. Sen. Dean Skelos says his members also want a pay raise.

Republicans won a bare majority of 32 seats in the 2014 elections and Skelos, following a two-hour closed door meeting with his Republican members, says the GOP will once again form a coalition government with Sen. Jeff Klein, the leader of the Independent Democrats.

New York State Senate

Democrats in the New York State Senate say they are taking Gov. Andrew Cuomo at his word to help them regain the majority, despite some indications that he might be walking back some of the promises he made at the Working Family Party’s convention Saturday night.

Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins says she’s holding Cuomo to the promise he made to the Working Families Party, to regain Democratic control of the state Senate.

“He has to,” Stewart-Cousins said.

The leader of the state Senate Republicans offered some hope that New York’s public campaign finance system could be expanded before the session is over.  

Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos says talks are ongoing about expanding public campaign finance to more statewide races in New York. Skelos, who’s said a plan pushed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo would be a waste of the taxpayers’ money, says he’s open to other means of funding, like a voluntary tax form check off.