A once-time rising star in the state Senate is in full damage-control mode after a state investigation questioned his role in the corrupt bidding process over turning Aqueduct race track into a video gaming hall.
State Sen. Eric Adams (D–Park Slope) invited all of Brooklyn’s Democratic district leaders to dial into a rare conference call on Monday afternoon so he could give his side of the story to the political insiders who would play a supporting role in Adams’s quest for higher office.
“The real question is … can he stop the bleeding,” said one insider who was on the call, where Adams disputed a State Inspector General finding that he gave “incredible” testimony to state investigators over the legislature’s selection of the Aqueduct Entertainment Group to run the new video slot machines at the Ozone Park racetrack.
Adams delivered a point-by-point rebuttal of the report’s findings — zeroing in on inconsistencies between his version and the inspector’s version of the timeline of events, specifically saying that Inspector General Joseph Fisch “mixed up” two dinners that Adams had with Gov. Paterson, including one in January, 2009, when the Aqueduct bid was decided upon.
But Adams asserted that he barely discussed anything at that dinner and that he had indicated his choice to Paterson at another dinner months earlier.
Adams declined to comment further, saying his attorneys told him not to speak publicly about the case, but confirmed he would be sending out a mailer to constituents next month with a formal statement on the report.
The state inspector’s findings have been turned over to Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, who is investigating.
Some public officials have already started distancing themselves from Adams and his colleagues embroiled in the Aqueduct investigation.
Attorney General-elect Eric Schneiderman returned contributions of $10,500 to Adams, in addition to refunding $55,900 in donations from state Sen. John Sampson’s committee two weeks before the November election.
A Schneiderman spokesman told the Daily News that he was merely keeping his promise to refund any money that had been tainted by the Aqueduct scandal.