Donations dry up for Sen. Smith after his arrest

By Rich Bockmann

State Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-Hollis), the embattled southeast Queens lawmaker who has taken heat in the past for treating his campaign account as a personal piggy bank, may have to make some lifestyle changes soon.

Smith has been a cash cow in the past, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars from campaign donors who foot the bills for his credit card, SUV payments and expensive trips, but he has not raised a dime since he was arrested April 2 in an alleged plot to bribe his way into the race for New York City mayor on the Republican ticket, his most recent campaign finance disclosures show.

His campaign kitty grew to more than $400,000 in 2011 before he spent all but $60,000 last year, even though Smith was running unopposed for his sixth term in Albany.

Smith started ramping up his fund-raising efforts earlier this year after he made a controversial move before the 2013 session started to join a rogue group of senators known as the Independent Democratic Conference that denied Democrats a majority in the upper house.

The state’s latest campaign filings show he hit donors up in the first three months of 2013 to the tune of nearly $46,000 with his last contribution coming March 26, one week before he was arrested along with City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone), then-Queens GOP Vice Chairman Vince Tabone and three others in a suspected public corruption scam.

Smith and the others have pleaded not guilty to bribery and corruption charges in federal court.

His campaign made one refund to New York Retailers for Effective Government in the amount of $1,000 dated April 2, the same day he was arrested.

The sudden contribution shortfall does not seem to have tightened Smith’s purse strings, though.

He spent more than $82,000 during the most recent reporting period beginning Jan. 12, leaving him with just shy of $11,000 on hand at the end of the period July 11.

The lawmaker does not appear to be spending his campaign cash on legal fees, however, as he continues to pay off his credit card balance and make payments to the 6 Group, a fund-raising consultant popular among Senate Dems.

Smith’s alliance with the IDC placed him in several powerful positions. He touted his appointments to the Senate Finance Committee and its task force on Superstorm Sandy recovery as being direct results of his defection from the Democratic majority.

He also co-authored the state’s gun-reform law drafted in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, legislation he dedicated to Donna Hood and Shenee Johnson, two southeast Queens mothers who lost their sons to gun violence.

Smith was booted from the IDC after his arrest and stripped of his committee assignments.

He was due in court in White Plains this Friday for a pre-trial hearing.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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