By Jay Behrke
CHESTER – This was a busy week for those following the CPV power plant scandal.
Last week, after U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara levied corruption charges against two former top gubernatorial aides, 99th District assembly candidate Colin Schmitt issued this statement:
“We have yet another sad reminder that dirty money and corruption are the hallmarks of ‘politics as usual’ in the state of New York. This time the criminality plaguing our state government has hit directly in the heart of the 99th Assembly District, involving the CPV project in Wawayanda. It is public knowledge that my opponent Democrat James Skoufis has received significant contributions from parties involved in this corruption scandal in the Assembly District. I join with others in calling on a full disclosure of any and all involvement and communication my opponent and his office or campaign operation had with those tied directly with this criminal operation in the 99th Assembly District.”
“Last week, it was announced that the largest political scandal in state history had occurred, and its epicenter was in the 99th District,” he said this Tuesday at a press conference echoing that sentiment, and the incumbent assemblyman responded with his own statement, saying his opponent “has a long history of partaking in innuendo and baseless attacks.”
“I have zero tolerance for corruption which is why, as soon as I learned of the criminal allegations involving CPV, I donated the $750 in contributions the company made to my campaign committee to the Jewish Family Services of Orange County,” read the press release. “It was the right thing to do and I’m pleased many other elected officials have followed my lead. Furthermore, given the cloud of impropriety over the project, I immediately called for an investigation into every, single state-issued permit CPV has received. This review must be done independently and objectively to ensure the health and safety of Orange County’s residents.”
Skoufis joins other elected officials, including Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus, who have asserted that if the company acted improperly, its permits should be revoked.
And Thursday morning, the trial against the ‘Wawayanda 6’ – comprised of Academy Award-nominated actor James Cromwell, senatorial candidate Pramilla Malick and four others – was postponed by the court with less than 24 hours to go before the 9 a.m. start time. The justice in the case, Timothy P. McEldruff, has refused – despite what defense lawyer Michael Sussman insists are recusable associations – to walk away.
Protesters gathered at the site, continuing to contend that CPV will cause palpable safety hazards, and that the elements utilized tend to explode and leak. (They gather again tonight at SUNY Orange’s Rowley Center in Middletown at 7 p.m. for “You Are Here – Orange County.”) CPV officials say such claims are incorrect and post the word “myth” 19 times on their company website’s home page alone.