Senator Tom Libous’ ties to contractor, fracking scrutinized (UPDATED)

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From Gannett Albany Bureau Chief Joseph Spector:

Sen. Thomas Libous, R-Binghamton, on Thursday denied he has a personal stake in whether New York moves forward with hydraulic fracturing after a report linked him to a developer who has drilling lease deals.

Libous, speaking on WNBF-AM in Binghamton, said neither he nor his wife have a financial stake in a company run by Luciano Piccirilli, a Libous friend and campaign donor who owns property in central New York.

“I stand to gain nothing personally from fracking. And I mean that,” Libous, an ardent support of hydrofracking in the Southern Tier.

Libous’ lakeside house in Sanford, Broome County, may also be the target of the FBI. Raymond Rolston, a retired contractor who handled the paving work at Libous’ house, said Thursday he was interviewed in March by the FBI about the job.

Rolston said he believes others in the area have been interviewed. He said the FBI interviewed at his ice cream shop in Binghamton.

“It was something about political corruption,” Rolston said Thursday in a telephone interview with Gannett’s Albany Bureau.

In the radio interview, Libous said he was unaware of any FBI probe and has not been contacted by investigators.

Bloomberg News on Thursday first reported that Rolston was contacted by the FBI. Piccirilli was the general contractor for Libous’ Sanford home, it reported. Piccirilli also owns 230 acres near Oneonta, and his company, Da Vinci II LLC, was formed by Frances Libous in 2005, Bloomberg reported.

Libous said he and his wife have no stake in the company — DaVinci II LLC — and they sold off their interest when the company started to look into gas leasing around 2008. But Libous’ most recent financial disclosure form, which was filed in May 2012, lists himself and his wife as partners in “DaVinci II Real Estate.”

In the radio interview, Libous said he would not release documentation about this sale of his interest, saying “”It’s my personal business.”

Libous charged that the fervor around his business dealings is coming from groups opposed to hydrofracking.

“The anti-frackers have been coming after me for a long time,” Libous said.

UPDATE: Save the Southern Tier, a group opposed to fracking, said Libous should “stop speaking for the oil and gas industry and instead think about his constituents.”

“Senator Libous needs to stop trying to play ‘hide the ball’ by slandering people opposed to fracking and instead immediately come clean about his relationship with Da Vinci II LLC and the fracking industry,” Sue Rapp, a member of the group, said in a statement.

Libous last year was apparently under investigation by the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics for allegedly using his influence to get his son a job at a politically connected law firm in Westchester County.

Asked about the status of that probe, Libous said he was unaware where it stood.

Here’s Libous’ disclosure form for 2011-12. A new round of disclosure forms are set to be made public next month.

Senator Libous 1

(Photo by Bill Moyer/Press & Sun-Bulletin)

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9 Comments

  1. Hugh Kimball on

    If Libous has nothing to gain, then what is his opposition to allowing his fellow senators to vote on a two-year moratorium bill? Why is not this issue important enough to deserve and up or down vote with all the senators voting as they see fit?

  2. As an ordinary citizen with nothing to gain and everything to lose if there is fracking in the Southern Tier, I am appalled by Senator Libous’ frank disregard for his constituents. As a voter, I no longer feel the Senator represents my best interests. With all the recent scandals plaguing the New York State legislature, Senator Libous does no credit to his profession by continuing to hide his true interests in gas drilling. Why won’t he allow the moratorium bill to come to the Senate floor for a fair vote?

  3. Senator Libous, once you take the oath of office some of your “personal” business becomes a matter of state interest. Their are rules you should follow regarding votes in which you have a “personal” interest.

    The right of New York State residents to have sufficient clean water, air unpolluted by greenhouse gas methane and radioactive radon, land not decimated by fracking wells and a chance at a holdback of climate change and corresponding erratic weather patterns. We deserve to tell our state representatives our concerns and these concerns should be addressed in votes, as opposed to only gas industry money being addressed in votes.

  4. Worth repeating: “Libous said he would not release documentation about this sale of his interest, saying “It’s my personal business.”

    Also worth noting: Senator Libous took $190,700.00 in campaign contributions from fracking and related industries in 2012. http://www.commoncause.org/site/pp.asp?c=dkLNK1MQIwG&b=8482079

    Senator Libous avidly touts the gas industry’s misinformation and disregards the interests of his constituents and the best science on fracking alike.

  5. “Libous, speaking on WNBF-AM in Binghamton, said neither he nor his wife have a financial stake in a company run by Luciano Piccirilli, a Libous friend and campaign donor who owns property in central New York.” That’s a lie right there. Of course he has something to gain. His friend filling his pockets with MORE campaign contributions if his friend’s company can go ahead with fracking. This is totally unacceptable that this politician’s self interest comes before his constituents. The man ought to be fired for lying.

  6. carol tansey on

    As Senator Libous took office, he took an oath of office, promising to represent his constituents. Responding “It’s my personal business” when asked a question regarding a possible conflict of interest, sounds like he is representing, instead, himself. Tsk! Tsk!

  7. Joanne Corey on

    I am a constituent of Sen. Libous and I was especially upset when he repeatedly blamed those opposed to fracking from everything from raising questions with reporters about his home to death threats. He also repeated the charge that fracking opponents are well-funded and not representing the interests of real NYers.

    I have repeatedly contacted the Senator’s office, always respectfully requesting certain actions, such as co-sponsoring legislation or allowing a bill to come to the floor for a vote. Senator Libous does not acknowledge my communications with him or give any answers to me, which he should as my representative in the State Senate.

    He should also expect communication on important issues from around the state, given that he is deputy Republican leader. While there are a few celebrities involved in the opposition to HVHF, the vast majority of people are just grass roots folks who love our NY homes and land and don’t want to see it damaged or polluted.

    In the radio interview, Senator Libous made it sound as though the only jobs for union members would be if gas drilling is permitted, but there would be many more permanent jobs available from the expansion of renewable energy and from home and business retrofitting for energy efficiency. Converting buildings to geothermal for heating and cooling and insulating buildings for efficiency will give union members steady work for years and help the environment by cutting way back on fossil fuel use.

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