|Lieutenant Governor of New York
March 17, 2008 – June 24, 2008
|Preceded by||David Paterson
as Lieutenant Governor
|Succeeded by||Dean Skelos|
|Temporary President of the New York State Senate|
November 25, 1994 – June 24, 2008
|Preceded by||Ralph J. Marino|
|Succeeded by||Dean Skelos|
|Member of the New York Senate
from the 41st, later the 43rd district
January 1, 1977 – July 18, 2008
|Preceded by||Douglas Hudson|
|Succeeded by||Roy McDonald|
|Born||Joseph Louis Bruno
April 8, 1929
Glens Falls, New York
|Spouse(s)||Barbara Frasier (deceased)|
|Children||Joseph, Susan, Kenneth, and Catherine|
|Residence||Brunswick, New York|
|Alma mater||Skidmore College|
Joseph Louis Bruno (born April 8, 1929) is an American businessman, and Republican politician. He was the Temporary President of the New York State Senate and its majority leader. He also served as acting Lieutenant Governor of New York.
On June 23, 2008, Bruno announced that he would not seek reelection to the State Senate in 2008. On June 24, 2008, Bruno stepped down from the positions of Senate Majority Leader and "temporary president of the senate", but remained a State Senator. On July 18, 2008, Bruno resigned from the New York State Senate. He represented the 43rd New York State Senate District.
On January 23, 2009, Bruno was indicted on eight counts of corruption, including mail and wire fraud.
On December 7, 2009, Bruno was convicted of two counts of mail and wire fraud. He was acquitted of five felonies, and the jury hung on the last count. His convictions were subsequently overturned on appeal, but prosecutors retried him. The start of the retrial was postponed and delayed. In May 2013, Bruno's lawyers argued to an appeals court that Bruno should not be retried. On August 6, 2013, a three judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that Bruno's retrial was not barred by the Double Jeopardy Clause and affirmed the District Court's denial of Bruno's motion to dismiss the Government's indictment. Bruno was acquitted of both charges on May 16, 2014.
- 1 Personal life
- 2 Political career
- 3 Criticism
- 4 2009 Indictment
- 5 Conviction
- 6 Appeal
- 7 Retrial and acquittal
- 8 Post-acquittal activities
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Bruno was born in Glens Falls, New York, and graduated from St. Mary's Academy. He has a B.A. degree in Business Administration from Skidmore College and served in the Korean War as an infantry Sergeant. Bruno served as president of the New York State Jaycees and in 1964 was named by them as one of the five "Outstanding Young Men of the State."
There is at least one building named for Bruno in each of the fourteen towns and two cities that comprise Rensselaer County, New York. In addition, the Tri-City ValleyCats—a short-season minor-league affiliate of the Houston Astros—play in Joseph L. Bruno Stadium situated on the Troy-North Greenbush border.
In 1966, Bruno was on the campaign staff of Governor Nelson Rockefeller, and from 1969 to 1974 he served as Special Assistant to Speaker of the Assembly Perry B. Duryea. From 1968 to 1969, he was President of the New York State Association of Young Republicans. He also served as Chairman of the Rensselaer County Republican Committee from 1974 to 1977.
Bruno was a member of the New York State Senate from 1977 to 2008, sitting in the 182nd, 183rd, 184th, 185th, 186th, 187th, 188th, 189th, 190th, 191st, 192nd, 193rd, 194th, 195th, 196th and 197th New York State Legislatures. He was elected Temporary President of the New York State Senate on November 25, 1994, ousting the incumbent Ralph J. Marino.
Bruno, along with Governor George Pataki and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, was instrumental in returning the death penalty to New York State in 1995. The New York Court of Appeals (the highest state court in New York) later found the law to be unconstitutional because it gave jurors deadlocked between life without parole and execution no choice but to give eligibility for parole after 25 years; the Court of Appeals feared that jurors faced with this choice would unfairly lean toward a death sentence. In the 10 years after the law was passed, New York's crime rate plummeted without ever seeing an execution, perhaps weakening public support for the death penalty. Silver let the law die in 2005 without much debate.
According to an editorial in The Buffalo News, Bruno forced a bill through the Senate on June 27, 1995 that would have forced girls under 16 to get consent from both parents for an abortion. The bill never passed the New York State Assembly.
As the Temporary President of the Senate, Bruno was Chairman of the Rules Committee and an ex officio member of all Senate standing committees and statutory commissions.
Bruno dominated politics in Rensselaer County, as well as the state, experiencing only two major defeats: When Democratic Judge Patrick McGrath won re-election as County Court Judge by 69 percent in 2003, and when East Greenbush Town Justice Bob Jacon defeated District Attorney Patricia DeAngelis for an additional County Judgeship that was created by the State Senate specifically for DeAngelis in 2005.
2007-2008 legislative session
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At the start of the 2007-2008 session, it appeared the highly popular incoming Governor Eliot Spitzer would be able to enact an ambitious reform agenda over the opposition of a weakened Bruno. However, the 2007 state budget was deemed by many as similar to the budgets approved during the Pataki years, which some dubbed a victory for Bruno.
Entering 2007, Bruno's hold on Senate control appeared more tenuous than in prior years, as the Republicans lost the seat formerly held by Nicholas Spano, failed to regain a Republican-leaning seat in Syracuse and—with a caucus diminished to 33 members—had to defend the open seat of Michael Balboni in Nassau County; the latter seat was lost to Democrat Craig Johnson, Nassau County Legislator in a February 6, 2007 special election. The electoral reverses and the ongoing FBI investigation led some Republicans to suggest Bruno might step down as Majority Leader. There were also rumors some Republican senators might cross the aisle to throw control of the Senate to the Democrats.
In April 2007, Bruno also appeared to hold veto power over two other Spitzer initiatives: gay marriage and campaign finance reform. Bruno challenged Spitzer to restore the state's death penalty law. Bruno also criticized the Governor's plan to issue driver licenses to illegal immigrants, claiming it was aimed at stuffing the ballot box with Democratic voters.
Bruno's position became more tenuous in February 2008 after the special election loss of the heavily Republican 48th District in Watertown, which had formerly been held by Sen. James W. Wright. This loss diminished the Republican Senate majority to a single seat, and press speculation centered on whether the remaining GOP senate caucus would cause Bruno to step down.
Police surveillance controversy
On July 23, 2007, New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo admonished Governor Eliot Spitzer's administration for ordering the State Police to track Bruno's travel records, particularly his use of a state helicopter. At the direction of top officials of the Spitzer administration, the New York State Police created documents meant to cause political damage to Bruno. The governor's staff had stated they were responding to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA or FOIL) request from The Times-Union of Albany in late June. On May 23, Spitzer's Communications Director Darren Dopp wrote Rich Baum, a senior Spitzer adviser, that "records exist going way back" about Bruno's use of state aircraft, and that "Also, I think there is a new and different way to proceed re media. Will explain tomorrow." Dopp later wrote another e-mail to Baum after a story ran in the Times-Union about a federal grand jury investigation of Bruno's investments in thoroughbred racing horses, and wrote: "Think travel story would fit nicely in the mix."
A 57-page report issued by the Attorney General's office concluded that Spitzer aides attempted to create negative media coverage concerning Bruno's travel before any FOIA request was made. The investigation looked into both Bruno's travel and the senate leader's allegation that Spitzer used State Police to spy on him. Cuomo concluded that "These e-mails show that persons in the governor's office did not merely produce records under a FOIL request, but were instead engaged in planning and producing media coverage concerning Senator Bruno's travel on state aircraft before any FOIL request was made." It noted that the Times-Union's initial FOIL request didn't even ask for the records involving Bruno that the paper was later given by aides to Spitzer. The Times-Union's requests sought documents on use of state aircraft by seven officials, including Spitzer, Bruno and Lieutenant Governor David Paterson, yet Spitzer's office released only Bruno's itinerary. The Spitzer administration and the State Police provided far more details about Bruno than about other officials to the Times-Union, including records to reply to a request under the state's Freedom of Information laws, though no such request had even been made. The report noted that the state acted outside the laws in what it released, such as documents that resembled official state travel records, "which they were not" according to Ellen Nachtigall Biben, a former prosecutor in the Manhattan District Attorney's office, who contributed to the report. The report stated that the Times-Union request came after the story about Bruno's travels was published, and was "not consistent" with Spitzer administration claims that all it did was respond to a FOIA request. No other officials were subject to the same scrutiny as Bruno, and in some cases, the reports created by State Police were pieced together long after the trips, sometimes based on the memory of the police escorts involved.
The report cleared Bruno of any legal violations in his use of the state's air fleet. Spitzer also used the state aircraft during the first six months of his term as governor for political purposes, including a stop in Rochester to attend an event for the Monroe County Democratic Committee on a day in which he had a number of stops related to public business. The report criticized Spitzer's office for using State Police resources to gather information about Bruno's travel and releasing the information to the media.
Spitzer responded at a July 23 press conference that "As governor, I am accountable for what goes on in the executive branch and I accept responsibility for the actions of my office" and that his administration had "grossly mishandled" the situation. Spitzer issued an apology to Bruno and stated that "I apologized to Senator Bruno and I did so personally this morning."
However, Spitzer's apology did not end the dispute. Four probes by the state Attorney General's office, the State Senate Investigations Committee, the Albany County District Attorney's office, and the New York Commission on Public Integrity (the state ethics board), are ongoing.
On March 29, 2008, The Buffalo News reported "former Gov. Eliot L. Spitzer lied to prosecutors" about his role in Troopergate, but "the Albany County district attorney said he will not pursue any criminal charges against the already disgraced ex-governor."
Acting Lieutenant Governor
On March 17, 2008, Governor Eliot Spitzer resigned and Lieutenant Governor David Paterson succeeded to the governor's office. Joseph Bruno - as Temporary President of the state Senate - became Acting Lieutenant Governor, and was next-in-line to become Acting Governor of New York in case of a vacancy.
On June 23, 2008, Bruno confirmed that he would not seek re-election in the fall of 2008. On June 24, 2008, Bruno stepped down as "temporary president of the senate" and as Senate Majority Leader. On July 18, 2008, Bruno resigned his New York State Senate seat. On November 4, 2008, he was replaced by his "hand-picked" successor, Roy McDonald, in the general election.
Reversal on Same-Sex Marriage
Almost one year after his stepping down from being Senate Majority Leader, Bruno announced that he supported same-sex marriage - a position that in the past he had never taken publicly. After years of working with the relatively socially liberal Governor George Pataki whom conservative Republicans criticized for his continued support of abortion rights and his heavy lobbying in favor of SONDA, a gay rights bill that languished in the state Senate for many years as a result of Bruno's opposition, Bruno and his caucus were put on the spot for their support of a socially conservative agenda. LGBT people and groups pushed very hard for the gay rights bill and in late 2002, Bruno finally gave in; the bill passed the Senate and was signed into law by Governor Pataki. In 2009, Bruno was tapped by Governor David Paterson to speak out for same-sex marriage in Albany. Bruno also admitted in 2009 that he personally favored same-sex marriage but never brought it the floor of the State Senate because the majority of his conference was against it, stating "This is America, and we have inalienable rights... Life is short, and we should all be afforded the same opportunities and rights to enjoy it."
During the budget process in 1995, Bruno, who was new to the Majority Leader role at the time, made a comment about Blacks and Hispanics who "got their hands out" pressuring the legislature to avoid cuts to social services. According to the Syracuse Post-Standard, "Bruno said he was referring to the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus, which is a major force in the Democratic majority in the Assembly." Bruno's defense was that he was referring to political caucuses, not all blacks and Hispanics; he offered a blanket apology for offending some people, but refused to take his words back.
Fiscal conservative pundits originally were very supportive of Bruno's agenda in the State Senate. In later years, they expressed concern over Bruno's willingness to cooperate with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver on budgets deemed to be excessive, over endorsements Bruno received from state employee labor unions, including health care union Local 1199, and over Bruno's recruitment of former Democrats to run as Republicans for swing Senate districts in Syracuse and the Bronx.
In December 2006, Bruno disclosed that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had been looking into business associates of Bruno's who had received state grants. The FBI investigation appeared to lead Bruno to end one of his long-time consulting jobs in 2007.
On January 23, 2009, Bruno was indicted on eight counts of corruption, including mail and wire fraud. The indictment accused Bruno of defrauding New Yorkers from 1993 to 2006. During that period of time, Bruno allegedly used his powerful position to help entities with business before the state that in return paid him $3.2 million in private consulting fees.
In 2009, he was convicted of using his office to help a businessman who paid him as a consultant and in a horse venture, violations of the federal "honest services" law. On May 6, 2010, he was sentenced to two years in jail on the two federal fraud counts.
In November, 2011 Bruno's convictions were overturned on appeal. Prosecutors indicated at the time that they plan to retry Bruno. In May, 2012 a federal judge set February 4, 2013 as Bruno's retrial date. On February 4, 2013, a judge delayed the start of the retrial.
In May, 2013 Bruno's lawyers urged an appeals court to halt the planned retrial, claiming it would violate Bruno's right against double jeopardy. In August, 2013 Bruno lost his appeal to a three judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals. The court ruled that a new trial would not violate Bruno's double jeopardy rights, and stated that the new trial can continue as planned.
In September, 2013 Bruno had successful surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from his kidney.
Retrial and acquittal
In October, 2015 Bruno announced that he was contributing $1.4 million in unspent campaign funds to the New York State Senate Republican Campaign Committee, and donating $100,000 to a scholarship fund. At the same time, he announced that he was closing his legal defense fund and donating the $70,000 balance to several nonprofit organizations.
- Britt Godshalk, YNN, Bruno Facing Corruption Charges, January 24, 2009
- Confessore, Nicholas; Hakim, Danny (December 8, 2009). "Bruno, Former State Leader, Guilty of Corruption". The New York Times. Retrieved May 7, 2010.
- Newspaper article, Federal appeals court permits Joseph Bruno retrial, by Associated Press, Syracuse Post-Standard, November 16, 2011
- Bobby Cuza, New York 1, Former State Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno Continues Fight Against Corruption Charges, May 8, 2013
- U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of New York (August 6, 2013). "Court of Appeals Denies Joseph L. Bruno's Interlocutory Appeal: Former New York State Senate Majority Leader will Face Retrial". FBI: Albany Division. Federal Bureau of Investigation.
- Lovett, Ken (May 16, 2014). State Sen. Joseph Bruno walks in corruption trial. New York Daily News. Retrieved June 2, 2014.
- NNDB entry: Joseph Bruno
- Newspaper article, NY Senate leader Joseph Bruno won't run again, by Michael Gormley, Saratoga Press-Republican, June 24, 2008
- Newspaper article, In Bruno’s Upstate Corner, Name Stays Untarnished, by Jeremy W. Peters, New York Times, December 8, 2009
- Biography, The New York State Directory, published by E. T. Walsh, 1997, page 22
- Rough Justice: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer, by Peter Elkind, 2010
- Newspaper article, New York Senate Approves Revival of Death Penalty, by James Dao, New York Times, March 7, 1995
- Newspaper article, Senate Pushing For Reinstatement Of Death Penalty, North Country Gazette, April 25, 2007
- Newspaper article, 4-3 Ruling Effectively Halts Death Penalty in New York, by William Glaberson, New York Times, June 25, 2004
- Did You Know? Page, New Yorkers for Alternatives to the Death Penalty web site, accessed March 30, 2012
- Magazine article, No Death Penalty for New York, Mark Hatch-Miller, March 7, 2005
- Bruno: 'Get the Troops Out of There', The New York Sun, February 3, 2006. Retrieved on 2008-03-17.
- Elizabeth Benjamin (February 7, 2007). "Spitzer's Senate choice wins". Times Union. Archived from the original on 2008-03-23. Retrieved 2008-03-18.
- Danny Hakim and Mike McIntire (December 22, 2006). "More Records Subpoenaed in Bruno Case". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-03-17.
On the political front, Senator John Bonacic... became the first Republican to call openly for Mr. Bruno to step down as majority leader, a rare act of defiance among Senate Republicans.
- Nicholas Confessore (May 2, 2007). "Bruno Opposes Bill to Legalize Gay Marriage". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-03-18.
- Kenneth Lovett (April 25, 2007). "Bruno vs. Ri¢hie $ptiz". New York Post. Retrieved 2008-03-18.
- Azi Paybarah (April 25, 2007). "On Death Penalty, Bruno and Spitzer Versus Assembly". The New York Observer. Retrieved 2008-03-18.
- Kenneth Lovett (September 26, 2007). "Bruno Warns of Illegal Vote Drive". New York Post. Retrieved 2008-03-18.
- Irene Jay Liu (February 27, 2008). "Senate loss slams state GOP". Times Union. Archived from the original on 2008-03-23. Retrieved 2008-03-18.
- Danny Hakim (July 23, 2007). "Spitzer's Staff Misused Police, Report Finds". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-03-17.
- Cara Matthews (July 23, 2007). "Cuomo: Spitzer aides used state police to try to damage Bruno". The Ithaca Journal. Archived from the original on 2008-03-17.
- Michael Gormley (July 24, 2007). "Spitzer aides blamed for leak". Troy Record. Not available, 2008-03-17.
- Michael Gormley (July 24, 2007). "Spitzer aides linked to Bruno leaks". Oneida Dispatch. Retrieved 2008-03-17.
- Tom Precious (July 23, 2007). "Cuomo criticizes Spitzer for using State Police to monitor Bruno". The Buffalo News. Not available, 2008-03-17.
- Michael Gormley (July 23, 2007). "Report: NY Governor's Office Leaked Data". Guardian Unlimited. London. Not available, 2008-03-17.
- Anthony Faiola (July 25, 2007). "N.Y. Governor Moves to Limit Ethics Scandal". The Washington Post. p. A06. Retrieved 2008-03-17.
- Fredric U. Dicker (July 24, 2007). "Spitzer Aides Dirty: Cuomo". New York Post. Retrieved 2008-03-17.
- Tom Precious (July 24, 2007). "Spitzer aides faulted for smearing Bruno over use of state aircraft". The Buffalo News. Not available, 2008-03-17.
- Fred Lebrun (July 24, 2007). "Exhaustive effort to 'get Joe' boomerangs on Spitzer's aides". Times Union. Archived from the original on 2008-03-23. Retrieved 2008-03-17.
- Sara Kugler (July 24, 2007). "Spitzer sanctions top aides over scandal". Jordan Falls News. Not available, 2008-03-17.
- James M. Odato (July 24, 2007). "Spitzer aides on the outs". Times Union. Not available, 2008-03-17.
- Melissa Mansfield (July 23, 2007). "Spitzer punishes aides after AG report". Newsday. Not available, 2008-03-17.
- Jacob Gershman (July 24, 2007). "Spitzer Faces Probe in Senate". The New York Sun. Retrieved 2008-03-17.
- Sally Goldenberg (July 23, 2007). "Report: Governor's office compiled, leaked data on Bruno". Staten Island Advance. Retrieved 2008-03-17.
- The March 29, 2008 Buffalo News article
- Gormley, Michael (2008-06-23). "NY Senate leader Joseph Bruno won't run again". Newsday. Associated Press.
- Eltman, Frank (2008-06-24). "New majority leader a skilled, savvy politician". Newsday. Associated Press.
- N.Y. Senate Leader Bruno To Resign Seat
- Kenneth C. Crowe II, "McDonald tops Russo in 43rd Senate race: Incumbents Farley, Seward, Breslin also lead in their Senate races", Times Union, found at TimesUnion website. Retrieved November 6, 2008.
- Blog post, Joe Bruno backs Cuomo, same-sex marriage, by Jimmy Vielkind, Albany Times-Union, May 26, 2011
- Bruno Opposes Bill to Legalize Gay Marriage, by Nicholas Confessore, New York Times, May 2, 2007
- Blog post, Assembly Passes Gay Marriage Bill, by Jen Chung, The Gothamist, June 20, 2007
- Newspaper article, GOP senator from Saratoga becomes 31st vote for same-sex marriage bill; GOP Sen. Roy McDonald becomes 31st vote for same-sex marriage bill, Albany Times-Union, by Jimmy Vielkind, June 15, 2011
- http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2009/06/can_joe_bruno_rescue_gay_marri.html Can Joe Bruno Rescue Gay Marriage?
- http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2009/06/14/2009-06-14_samesex_surprise_joe_bruno_former_ny_senate_leader_now_supports_gay_marriage.html Same-sex surprise: Joe Bruno, former NY Senate leader, now supports gay marriage
- James Dao (April 8, 1995). "Governor Criticizes A Chief Ally". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-03-18.
- Kevin Sack (April 10, 1995). "Budget Battle Heats Up in Albany as Legislative Leaders Trade Harsh Words". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-03-18.
- Steven Malanga (Spring 2001). "New York's Republican Crack-Up". City Journal. Manhattan Institute. Retrieved 2008-03-18.
- Elizabeth Benjamin (November 22, 2006). "Mystery Candidate Revealed". Capitol Confidential. Times Union. Retrieved 2008-03-18.
- Jonathan P. Hicks (July 17, 2004). "Conservative Party Refuses To Endorse Senate Leader". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-03-18.
- Michael Cooper and Danny Hakim (December 20, 2006). "Bruno Is Subject of Inquiry by F.B.I.". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-03-18.
- James M. Odato (December 22, 2007). "Bruno cuts ties to firm". Times Union. Archived from the original on 2008-03-16. Retrieved 2008-03-18.
- Tom Caprood (January 24, 2009). "Feds indict Bruno on corruption matter". The Saratogian. Retrieved 2009-01-27.
- Newspaper article, 2 Years for Bruno, by Brendan J. Lyons, Albany Times-Union, May 7, 2010
- Newspaper article, Former Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno convicted on 2 of 8 felony federal corruption counts, by Glenn Blain and Kenneth Lovett, New York Daily News, December 7, 2009
- Newspaper article, Ex-New York Senate Leader Joseph Bruno’s Conviction Thrown Out on Appeal, by Bob Van Voris, Bloomberg News, November 16, 2012
- Newspaper article, NY federal appeals court vacates Joseph Bruno conviction; former senate majority leader may face another trial, by Andrew Beam, The Saratogian, November 17, 2011
- Joseph Spector, Date Set For Joe Bruno’s Retrial; Gag Order Imposed, The Journal News (Westchester County, N.Y.), May 29, 2012
- WTEN-TV, Joe Bruno Retrial Postponed, February 4, 2013
- Bruce Golding, New York Post, Battlin’ Bruno ‘fed’ up, May 9, 2013
- Glenn Blain, New York Daily News, U.S. Appeals Court Allows Corruption Case Against Joe Bruno To Continue, August 6, 2013
- Glenn Blain, New York Daily News, Joe Bruno, Ex-State Senate Majority Leader, has Cancerous Tumor Removed from Kidney Before Corruption Trial, September 27, 2013
- Robert Gavin, Albany Times Union, Bruno's Retrial on Corruption Charges Set Case to Begin May 12 Before Same Judge who Presided Over First Trial in 2009, December 2, 2013
- Associated Press (October 9, 2015). "Ex-Sen. Bruno Giving Leftover $1.4M to NY Senate GOP". WCAX-TV. Burlington, VT.
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