When FBI agents raided the offices of New York State Assemblyman Brian McLaughlin back in March, few really thought that would be the end of the matter. He wasn’t arrested, but it was clear the feds had in mind a future indictment of him or other principals involved in potential massive bid-rigging in the awarding of city electrical contracts. The Queens-based McLaughlin (in photo), who also heads New York City’s powerful Central Labor Council, was the target of a probe as to whether he had received under-the-table campaign contributions from a pair of contractors who had done more than $160 million worth of electrical work over the years for the City Department of Transportation. It has turned out, in an unrelated matter, that the U.S. Attorney’s Office has subpoenaed McLaughlin’s campaign finance records. One particular piece of evidence may yield a few clues in the contract probe.
McLaughlin ran unopposed for re-election in 2004, yet spent more than $230,000. At least $166,000 of that went for fees for a short-lived Smithtown, L.I.-based consulting firm, Final Touch Management Services. State records show that the company was headed by a local chiropractor, Tom Schuette, whom sources say is a close friend of McLaughlin’s. Both Schuette and McLaughlin turned down requests for comment on the materials. McLaughlin is planning to step down from his Assembly seat at the end of the year, but his relationship with Final Touch raises suspicions that loopholes in state campaign finance laws partly explain his ability to swing favors for contractors in his duties as head of the Central Labor Council. (NY1 News, Time Warner Cable, 7/20/06).