Tom Libous

Libous Will Remain Deputy Leader

Binghamton Sen. Tom Libous will remain the deputy majority leader of the chamber, despite the change in majority leader on Monday.

Newly elected Majority Leader John Flanagan said on Monday afternoon he would not ask Libous to step aside.

“Senator Libous has not stepped aside, Senator Libous has not been asked to step aside and I don’t plan on asking him to do that,” Flanagan said.

Speculation had focused on the potential for Olean Sen. Cathy Young to take on the spot, which includes managing the conference’s floor operations.

“Senator Libous is the deputy leader and I don’t envision that changing,” Flanagan said.

It preserves the upstate-downstate balance in the conference’s leadership.

But it also comes as Libous, who is sick with terminal cancer, faces a charge of lying to the FBI and is under indictment.

Still, Libous is said to be deeply involved in the conference as he recuperates from the latest round of surgeries in Florida. He participate in today’s leadership vote via conference phone.

“Tom Libous may be in Florida, but he’s no shrinking violet,” Flanagan said. “He’s on the phone all the time. Many of us have had conversations with him. I believe he is entitled to be the floor leader.”

He added: “I think he is in a spot where certain changes are going to occur one way or the other. My wish is, regardless of the other stuff, my wish is that he gets better.”

Meanwhile, it is unclear who will take the Senate’s Education Committee chairmanship now that Flanagan has moved into the majority leader post — a key panel that will consider mayoral control of New York City schools later this legislative session. Flanagan this afternoon said a selection would be forthcoming.

Kay Libous, Mother Of Top Senate Republican, Has Died

Katherine Libous, the mother of Deputy Senate Majority Leader Tom Libous, has died, the Binghamton Republican’s office said in a statement this morning.

“Kay” Libous was 86.

The lawmaker’s staff released a statement with memorial information:

“It is with deep sadness that the Libous family announces the passing of Katherine (Kay) Libous, mother of Senator Tom Libous. She was 86 years of age. A Funeral Mass will be offered at St. Thomas Aquinas Church, Highland Ave. Binghamton on Friday at noon. Burial will be in Calvary Cemetery, Johnson City. The family will receive friends at St. Thomas Aquinas Church Friday from 11am to 12 noon. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105.”

Libous, under federal indictment for a charge of lying to federal investigators, was handily re-elected to another two-year term to the state Senate this November.

Libous serves as the top deputy to Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos as well as the floor lesader for the GOP conference in the chamber.

Libous Confident Despite Legal Setbacks

Despite having very little time to launch a primary campaign, State Senator Tom Libous said Tuesday he “thinks he’s going to do well” in Tuesday’s primary against local businessman Denver Jones.

Meanwhile, Jones said Tuesday he’s happy to even be an option for Southern Tier residents after several attempts to be stripped from the ballot.  Jones was almost taken off the ballot after hundreds of signatures were invalidated because of a slew of issues, including residency. After a court ruling out of Albany last month, those signatures were re-instated, allowing Jones to run for the primary. Regardless, Libous said Tuesday his campaign was ready to jump at primary if one came up.

“When we were told by the appellate division that he was going to be put on the ballot, that they ignored everything the lower court did, and the board of elections did, we started to go.”

– Sen. Tom Libous, (R) Senate – Binghamton

Jones, however, faces a significant challenge as a relatively unknown figure in the Southern Tier compared to the long-time Senator, but legal troubles have left Libous in a less-positive light in the past few months. Libous was indicted in July on charges of giving a false statement to the FBI. Those charges allege that he lied about helping his son get a job at a politically connected law firm, but Libous said he’s confident in his chances in the case.

“The indictment is something of a bit of a surprise, which I’ve said all along. I didn’t do it, and I will prove that, hopefully next year in a court of law that we didn’t make a false statement tot he FBI, and I would ask people as I have all along: I’m the same person before that, nothing’s changed. I’m still the guy who’s been working hard, trying to do things to improve this community.”

– Sen. Tom Libous, (R) Senate – Binghamton

At the polls, Libous touted his voting record as the second highest-ranking GOP member of the state senate, and his commitment to the Southern Tier’s economy. But Jones said he’s not impressed. He says his platform includes nixing Common Core and the SAFE Act, finding ways to keep taxes low, and enforcing deregulation in several industries to create jobs. But for Tuesday, he said he’s just happy to be a choice against Libous.

“I’m honored that people feel I’m an alternative to what we have. And even the people who say ‘Gee why should I vote for someone with no experience?’ the response has been, ‘What do I have to lose?'”

– Denver Jones, (R) State Senate Candidate


Libous Wants To Return To Normalcy

From the morning memo, in case you missed it:

Deputy Senate Republican Leader Tom Libous insisted in an interview with Time Warner Cable News on Monday the federal indictment against him doesn’t change his approach to his job or is prospects for re-election.

The longtime Binghamton lawmaker is accused of lying to the FBI, based on a June 2010 interview stemming from his alleged efforts to secure a job for his son Matthew Libous at a politically connected law firm.

In the interview, Libous stressed he’s focused on his day job as a state senator and isn’t being distracted by the looming case.

“It hasn’t taken up a lot fo time because — I don’t want to say they’re simple, they’re serious charges, I take them seriously — but we believe we can deal with it,” Libous said. “I have a good attorney. It really hasn’t taken or distracted me from many things.”

Libous added he still had a lot he wanted to accomplish while in office, including the completion of a new pharmacy school in the area.

Libous continues to have treatment for cancer, but said that while it knocks him back on occasion, he feels fine.

He was also confident he’ll be found not guilty of the false statements charge.

“I have to prove I did not give false statements in the interview and we’re going to prove that,” Libous said.

Nevertheless, the indictment of Libous was yet another wrench into the Senate GOP’s efforts to claim full control of the state Senate.

Soon after the indictment of Libous, Republican Sen. George Maziarz, the third-ranking member of the conference, abruptly announced he would retire and not run for re-election.

Maziarz’s campaign finances are reportedly being investigated by federal prosecutors, but he has insisted he’s stepping down to spend more time with his family.

Senate Democrats have sought to pounce on the Maziarz retirement as well as Libous’ indictment.

Former Vestal town Supervisor Andrea Starzak is running for Libous’ seat that he’s held since 1988. Denver Jones, a local activist, is running a GOP primary campaign against him.

Libous indicated he planned to run on his seniority and tenure in the state Senate — a potentially risky card to play. Losing him in the chamber could essentially hit the reset button in Albany for the region.

“Make the decision based on my performance, based on what I’ve done for the Southern Tier,” Libous said.

He added: “We don’t need New York City running upstate New York. If they were to win this seat, it gives them a foothold. Whether Republican or Democrat is, you’d be starting all over again. You’re starting from scratch.”

He’s spoken with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat who has a warm relationship with, since the indictment was handed up.

“We’ve connected and the governor’s in good spirits,” Libous said, “and we continue our relationship.”

Libous Still Running for Re-election, Says He’s Done Nothing Wrong

One week after being indicted on a charge of lying to the FBI, Senator Tom Libous says he is innocent. Libous did a phone interview with Binghamton area radio station WNBF Tuesday morning, and repeatedly asked voters to have confidence in him.

The charges brought by US attorney Preet Bharara relate to a case against Libous’s son Matthew, who is accused of filing false tax returns and making false statements about his income.

Prosecutors say Tom Libous urged a Westchester County law firm to hire Matthew Libous, and then arranged for a lobbying firm to pay his salary.

In the interview, Senator Libous said he did not want to comment on his son’s case but had plenty to say about his own defense. Libous pointed out that the accusations were that he made a false statement, not that he accepted bribes or abused his office. And furthermore, Libous told the host “I know it in my heart, I didn’t do anything wrong” and he expects to be found not guilty.

Of course, the case won’t go to trial immediately and in the meantime Libous does have an election to worry about. Libous said he is still planning to run for re-election, denying a suggestion from 2010 gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino that he planned to eventually drop out in an attempt to pick his own replacement.

That suggestion was made on the same radio station last month, but Libous said Paladino “is not my doctor” and that in fact despite his ongoing battle with cancer his doctors have encouraged him to run. That cancer is manageable but not curable according to the senator.

The accusations against Libous have lead to conflicting responses from his own party. State GOP chairman Ed Cox suggested that Bharara’s decision to indict Libous so close to the election was politically motivated.

Libous neither agreed nor disagreed with Cox, saying only that people can say what they want. Libous also said he was not surprised that the GOP candidate for governor, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, seems to believe he is guilty. Last week Astorino called the case evidence that Governor Cuomo has not done enough to clean up Albany.

Astorino has introduced his own ethics plan, which focuses largely on the state legislature, citing the growing list of federal indictment against lawmakers as major problem in state government.

Meanwhile the current governor is largely staying out of the matter. But Libous said Cuomo did call him and left a message, although the two have not spoken directly and Libous would not say what was in the message.

Libous does face a possible primary challenger, businessman Denver Jones, and a Democratic opponent, former Vestal town Supervisor Anndrea Starzak. He did use the radio interview to remind voters of past accomplishments, like saving the psychiatric center and helping bring new construction to Binghamton University, and ask them to have confidence in him moving forward.