Albany Paper Accused Of Pressuring State Senator To Buy Ads

By: Joe Strupp

New York State Senate majority leader Joseph L. Bruno claims the Albany Times Union pressured him to buy advertising in exchange for favorable coverage, asking the local district attorney to investigate.

The New York Times reported Thursday that Bruno, the leading Republican in the state, asked the Albany County district attorney to investigate The Times Union, claiming a newspaper representative on Tuesday sought to extort him to buy advertisements.

The newspaper’s publisher, Mark E. Aldam, denied the allegation, the Times reported.

“The exchange is the latest skirmish between Mr. Bruno and the newspaper, which has published several articles over the past year questioning Mr. Bruno’s business dealings and fund-raising activities,” the Times reported. “The Times Union reported last weekend that Mr. Bruno…took taxpayer-financed helicopter flights to New York City in May that coincided with Republican fund-raisers, and used state troopers to drive him to other scheduled events.”

Bruno claimed that the flights and police escorts were proper and said he conducted legitimate business on the trips. But Gov. Eliot Spitzer has submitted documents related to the flights to the state attorney general and the district attorney for review, the Times reported.

Bruno said that on Tuesday a Times Union advertising salesman contacted Mark Hansen, a Bruno spokesman, and “encouraged him to buy advertising in the newspaper as a way of counteracting The Times Union’s coverage of Mr. Bruno,” the Times reported.

Aldam said in a statement that the senator’s staff had mischaracterized the call. He said the salesman had “merely offered Mr. Bruno the chance to respond to a campaign advertisement taken out on the newspaper’s Web site by the state Democratic Party, attacking Mr. Bruno and Senate Republicans.”

“To imply any breach of integrity by The Times Union strikes me as an unfair attempt by Senator Bruno’s office to redirect attention from recent public reports toward the media company responsible for the initial reporting,” Aldam added.

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