Bruno could land job with friend

July 16, 2008 5:42:15 PM PDT
When longtime Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno retires this week from the Senate seat he's held since 1976, he could land a job with a friend whose business grew fast in recent years with the help of millions of dollars in state contracts, according to two Republicans close to Bruno. The Republicans who spoke on the condition of anonymity said Bruno is considering taking an executive job with CMA Consulting Services among some other opportunities. The Republicans spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak for Bruno.

Under state ethics law, Bruno acknowledged that he would be prohibited from lobbying the Legislature.

But Walter Ayres of the state Public Integrity Commission said there appears to be no law or regulation that would prohibit Bruno from lobbying the executive branch, which awards most state contracts.

CMA Consulting Services, based in the Albany County suburb of Colonie, is headed by Kay McCabe Stafford, the widow of Republican Sen. Ronald Stafford. Sen. Stafford was a close friend and contemporary of Bruno, now 79. Bruno had appointed Stafford to the powerful position of Senate Finance Committee chairman.

Kay Stafford was also appointed by former Republican Gov. George Pataki, a Bruno ally, to the State University of New York Board of Trustees, an unpaid but prestigious post in state government.

But the Albany connections go deeper.

CMA under CEO Kay Stafford was certified as a woman-owned business, which helps companies start and grow through help in landing state contracts.

And CMA has won more than $9 million in competitively bid contracts since 2006 for computer programming and information technology, according to state records. They helped the company grow since 1984 to a national corporation with offices in New York City, Maryland serving Washington, D.C., Texas and Arizona. Its Web site states the company serves Texas to Oregon and Guam to Maine.

Bruno praised the company Wednesday in a radio interview on WGDJ-AM Radio in Albany, saying he would announce as early as Sunday where he will next be employed.

"He hasn't reached a decision on what he's going to do," said Bruno's Senate spokesman Kriss Thompson. "He's mulling a couple of opportunities. He has narrowed his choices."

Thompson wouldn't comment on whether CMA was among those choices.

"He's going to take a little time, and probably not much time, to see how to write the next chapter of his life," Thompson said.

CMA spokesman Sean Casey wouldn't comment on whether Bruno is being considered for a position.

A good-government advocate advises Bruno to seek counsel if he were to choose to work for CMA.

"I don't know of any limitations that might exist," said Blair Horner of the New York Public Interest Research Group. "I think it would be in the senator's interest and the public's interest if he got an opinion from the Public Integrity Commission on what he can and can't do."

"He's different than a rank-and-file legislator," Horner said. "He was one of the `three-men-in-a-room' and a powerful political figure for well over a decade. So his relationship with the executive branch is different than a backbencher," he said, using a British term for low-ranking lawmakers.