By Denise Buffa
Last updated: 11:03 am
September 3, 2009
Sen Pedro Espada
The New Bronx Chamber of Commerce has rejected a nearly $2 million gift from Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr. -- whose notorious participation in a state Senate coup came after fellow Democrats blocked his plan to award the funds.
The group was "concerned over being tied to Espada," said a source. "It seems like every day there's a new investigation being launched into Sen. Espada. You have to ask yourself if you want to be the next one before you do business with him."
The Bronx senator originally earmarked the money for two mysterious charities he formed just a week before the Senate and Assembly were expected to dole out $170 million for members' pet projects.
When other Democrats rejected that plan, he said he would give $1.77 million to the chamber -- despite the fact that the group had requested just $50,000. When Dems shot that down, he defected to the Republicans in a coup that tied up Albany for weeks.
Espada later returned to the Democrats as majority leader, which gave him power to award the money.
But the New Bronx Chamber rejected the gift last week, even though it would have nearly quadrupled the organization's annual budget, said its CEO, Lenny Caro.
The chamber told Espada's office that the money didn't fit in with its mission, said Caro, who noted that some of the cash was earmarked to host senior-citizen breakfasts.
"We're not in the senior-citizen business," he said.
The unwanted cash now rolls back into the Senate's coffers.
Espada is under investigation by the state Attorney General's Office for alleged financial shenanigans.