Democratic Sen. Daniel Squadron became the second lawmaker in his conference to call for an ethics probe of state GOP Chairman Ed Cox and his ties to natural gas companies.

In a letter to Joint Commission on Public Ethics Chairman Daniel Horwitz, Squadron writes that Cox’s focus on hydrofracking and criticism of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s delay in making a decision on the issue should be looked into, given Cox’s investments in an energy company.

From the letter:

“Is Ed Cox using his statewide position as chair of one of the state’s two major parties to advocate on behalf of a corporation that pays him more than a quarter-million dollars a year — and of which he holds more than $4.25 million in stock? Does his financial interest pose a conflict of interest, and should Mr. Cox have to register as a lobbyist for Nobel?”

Squadron also references in the letter an editorial from The Daily Gazette of Schenectady that criticizes Cox for the fracking focus. Coincidentally, an email to state Democrats from the party’s executive director Rodney Capel referenced and linked to that same editorial. The email was released around the same time Wednesday afternoon as the Squadron letter.

“The fact that Republicans claim there is no conflict of interest is laughable,” Capel wrote in his email. “Cox has millions in cash and stock from a fracking company, while he tries to convince New Yorkers that he knows what’s best for our state’s energy future.”

Earlier this month, Buffalo Democratic Sen. Tim Kennedy wrote to JCOPE urging a similar ethics review of Cox.

If anything, the letters from Squadron — a downstater — and western New York’s Kennedy represent the start of some serious surrogacy work on behalf of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a year before he runs for re-election. Perhaps it’s no coincidence the attacks are coming from Senate Democrats after Cuomo has started to publicly break with their rival Independent Democratic Conference.

Updated: David Laska, the state Republican spokesman who is a busy guy today, sent a statement in response.

“Another day, another henchman dispatched by Andrew Cuomo with an ad hominem attack on Ed Cox. Meanwhile, it’s been almost a year since the Cuomo administration said it needed 90 days to complete their study on natural gas. Cuomo’s refusal to meaningfully address natural gas is symptomatic of his refusal to meaningfully address tax reform, Medicaid, mandate relief, education, pension liabilities and corruption. It’s no wonder that Republicans swept all seven County Executive seats last Tuesday, including in Andrew Cuomo’s own Westchester County.”

Updated X2: Bronx Assemblyman Carl Heastie is now taking on Cox, but in a different manner. He’s knocking him for the Malcolm Smith scandal, a day after former Bronx GOP Chairman Jay Savino pleaded guilty in the case.

With the former Bronx Republican Leader pleading guilty to bribery with the purpose of allowing State Senator Malcolm Smith to buy his way onto the New York City mayoral ballot, New Yorkers deserve to know what State Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox knew about this corrupt scheme.

As the chair of the state party, Ed Cox was responsible for padding the GOP ticket. It is plausible and necessary to ask whether or not the county Republican chairs worked together with the state party in a crooked ploy to swindle New Yorkers. New Yorkers deserve to know if Ed Cox was elbow-deep and in collusions with the Bronx Republican Leader.

We are entitled to the truth. The action of the Bronx Republican Leader raises alarming questions into the dealings of the State Republican Party.  How deeply entrenched is Ed Cox in the Backroom Boy’s Club of corrupt political cronies who attempted to dupe New York City voters?

The full letter can be read below and after the jump.

November 13, 2013

Daniel J. Horwitz, Chair
New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics
540 Broadway
Albany, NY 12207

Dear Mr. Horwitz,

Today’s editorial in The Daily Gazette (“GOP’s Cox should keep quiet about hydrofracking”) raises the very same questions as the Associated Press’ report last week on State Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox traveling the state to advocate for hydrofracking – while sitting on the corporate board of Nobel Energy, one of the nation’s largest natural gas exploration companies, and holding millions in stock there.

Is Ed Cox using his statewide position as chair of one of the state’s two major parties to advocate on behalf of a corporation that pays him more than a quarter-million dollars a year — and of which he holds more than $4.25 million in stock? Does his financial interest pose a conflict of interest, and should Mr. Cox have to register as a lobbyist for Nobel?

It seems that Mr. Cox needs to choose either his duties to our state’s democratic system as the Chair of the Republican Party, or his position as a multi-million dollar investor and board member of Noble Energy — and if he continues lobbying, he should comply with the law by registering as a lobbyist.

Advocating for the hydrofracking industry as the state’s Republican party chairman — with personal financial interests in a company that stands to dramatically benefit from hydrofracking — raises serious ethical issues and should warrant a JCOPE investigation.

I urge the commission to immediately look into these questions and potential conflict of interest. New Yorkers deserve to know for whom Ed Cox speaks: the party he represents, or his own bottom line.

Sincerely,

Daniel Squadron
State Senator
26th District