State Sen. Jeff Klein’s campaign cup is spilling over with $33,000 in cash from a national wine distributor that would almost singularly benefit from a bill the Bronx lawmaker authored.
But Klein’s re-election war chest is growing at the expense of small merchants and wine-loving consumers in New York, who could end up paying an extra $7 per bottle, critics charge.
Empire Merchants LLC is pushing a measure that would require all wine to be warehoused in New York for at least one day before being sold in local stores.
Empire has poured more than $500,000 over the last eight years into the coffers of Gov. Cuomo, state Senate co-leader Dean Skelos, Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver and other key lawmakers.
The wine bill — called an “at rest” proposal because it would require bottles to be “at rest” for one day in New York state — would also hurt the availability of small-batch wines, experts said.
Empire and two of its executives have given Cuomo $68,800 since 2009, records show.
Last week, feds arrested Bronx Assemblyman Eric Stevenson for writing a bill for a campaign donor — a measure that would have staved off competitors to a chain of adult daycare centers.
“I just need to tell me what they want; we prepare the bill . . . you can write down the language, basically what you want,” Stevenson said in a conversation allegedly caught on wiretaps. Stevenson alleged received an illegal bribe, $20,000 in cash, for the legislation.
A Peralta spokesman defended the bill he’s co-sponsoring.
“By leveling the playing field with the 33 states that have At Rest laws, including New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, this bill would create jobs and generate tax revenue for New York,” he said.
A Cuomo spokesman said the governor is still studying the issue.
“No contribution of any size has any impact on this administration’s operation of state government,” the spokesman said.
Well it’s a relief to learn that Governor Cuomo can’t be bought. When a state seizes the power to control every aspect of everyday living, the temptation is there to pay the rule makers to shift things your way. I wonder how Connecticut came to have this same “at rest” law, and how much it cost? Given our history of scandal and the payments that have been exposed, not much. But they do add up to real money, I suppose.