Libous Says Hes Innocent And Running For Re Election

07.09.14 | Sarah Harnisch

Senator Thomas Libous, R-Binghamton, proclaimed his innocence on Tuesday after he was charged last week with lying to the FBI and vowed to run and win re-election this fall.

In his first extended interview since he was charged July 1 in White Plains, the veteran senator who is second in command among Senate Republicans said he will fight the charge.

“We’ll be able to prevail,” Libous said on Bob Joseph’s radio show on WNBF-AM (1290) in Binghamton. “We’ll go to court sometime soon, I don’t know when, and I would ask that the people who have supported me so strongly over the past 26 years would be patient and look at the good things I’ve done as senator and not presume guilt before one has been proven innocent.”

Libous has had a close relationship with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, and Libous revealed that Cuomo left him a phone message after his indictment a week ago. He said he hasn’t had an opportunity to return the call.

Cuomo last year attended the wedding of Libous’ son, Matthew, who was hit with a six-count indictment last week, mainly on tax-evasion charges. The case is tied to allegations that the senator used his influence to get his son a job at a Westchester County law firm.

Cuomo “did leave a message for me, and I have not had a chance to hook up with him, but we have not spoken directly,” Libous said.

Asked if Cuomo offered a supportive message, Libous wouldn’t disclose the details, but said, “He has always been very supportive, and I would expect him to be supportive moving forward.”

Libous, 61, stressed that he will seek re-election in the fall, even as he faces the federal charge and battles cancer. He said his doctors have given him approval to continue to serve in the Senate and run for office. He was first elected to the Senate in 1988.

“I’ve spoke to my doctors. My health is being managed. My doctors have given me the green light to go forward. They think I should run,” Libous explained.

He has a Democratic opponent, former Vestal Town Supervisor Anndrea Starzak.

Starzak was in New York City on Tuesday meeting with Democratic Senate Campaign Committee chairman Mike Gianaris, D-Queens.

Democrats have indicated renewed hope in trying to beat Libous in November because of his legal woes, even though it will be an uphill battle as prior elections have shown. He won his last two elections with more than 60 percent of the vote.

“For too long Senator Libous and the Senate Republicans have controlled the Senate raising taxes and allowing jobs to flee the area while at the same time blocking crucial ethics legislation, protections for women and a much need raise in the minimum wage,” she said in a statement.

Libous said he would not let the federal charge or cancer impact his job.

“We will deal with those charges. We’re innocent of those charges, and we’re going to continue to do our job every day that I was elected to do,” Libous said.

Last year, Libous told Joseph on his show that he hadn’t been interviewed by the FBI. The indictment showed that Libous was interviewed in 2010.

Joseph played back the tape from last year and asked Libous to reconcile his statement with the indictment.

“Those conversations in 2010, I think I thought were a little different,” Libous explained. “When you asked me that question, I thought you were talking about recently.”

He added, “And you know, when there is an investigation on those issues are not issues you are instructed to talk about.”

Republicans have rallied around Libous.

Republican gubernatorial hopeful Rob Astorino, the Westchester County executive, said the charge against Libous “seems very, very weak.” But if Libous is guilty he “has got pay the price,” Astorino said.

“It seems like they needed to do something so they came up with a charge -- one count, without corroborating evidence, basically,” Astorino said on Talk 1300 (WGDJ-AM) in Albany. “So it seems like it’s a witch hunt, but unfortunately Tom’s got to go through this ordeal now of defending himself.”