Senate Minority Leader Malcolm Smith, left, said this morning that “it was stupid” to joke with lobbyists last week in Ulster County that his Democratic conference is like an IPO and that lobbyists should invest now to get in cheap before Democrats win the majority.
He also joked with them that Sen. Jeff Klein, D-Bronx, is his enforcer to get campaign cash out of them.
The comments have drawn sharp rebukes from Senate Republicans, and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos continued to criticize Smith’s comments, repeating today that it was a type of “thuggery.”
But Smith said “It was stupid. It was just a stupid joke, but the bottom line is in our conference I always stand for reform.”
And he knocked Skelos, right, for the “thuggery” comments, saying “I donâ€™t think someone of his stature should use that kind of language.”
But Skelos stood by his comments.
“When an elected official says that they have an enforcer if you donâ€™t contribute, thatâ€™s an inappropriate way to go,” Skelos said after he and Smith appeared separately on Fred Dicker’s radio show this morning.
Yet Skelos, unlike some of his Republican colleagues, stopped short of saying Smith’s comments should be investigated criminally.
“Whether youâ€™re an elected official or staff people, you should not be pushing people or threatening people for contributions,” he said.
Updated: The flap has led to one casualty. Smith just announced that he’s reassigned his communications director Curtis Taylor:
“I have recently accepted the resignation of Curtis Taylor as the Communications Director and Press Secretary of the State Senate Democratic Conference. Mr. Taylor will be moving over to Conference Services where his skills and services will be better utilized.”