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Padavan 9th in Senate in funding nonprofits

The borough's two Republican state senators, targets of the Democrats' plan to overtake the Senate, were among the highest recipients of member item funding to dole out in their districts, according to budget documents released last week.

State Sen. Serphin Maltese (R-Glendale) ranked eighth in the Senate with $2.44 million in member items, which are used to fund nonprofits in legislators' districts such as civic organizations, Little Leagues and volunteer ambulances.

Not far behind Maltese was state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) with $2.43 million, ninth among the 62 senators.

Both Maltese and Padavan are being aggressively targeted by Democrats in hopes of wresting control of the Senate from Republicans, who have a one-seat majority in the chamber.

Maltese faces challenges from City Councilman Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) and attorney Albert Baldeo, a Democrat who surprisingly came within 8,000 votes of ousting Maltese in 2006.

City Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) is expected to run against Padavan. He has slightly more than $382,000 in his campaign account, mostly from a December fund-raiser hosted by former Gov. Eliot Spitzer that took in about $250,000.

In the state Assembly, Assemblyman William Scarborough (D-St. Albans) led the Queens delegation with $1.6 million in member items and ranked fourth out of the 150 assemblymen.

Member items have come under intense scrutiny in recent years from scandals tied to the money.

Former state Assemblyman Brian McLaughlin (D-Flushing) pleaded guilty in March to racketeering and perjury charges for stealing $2.2 million, including $95,000 from the Electchester Athletic Association a Little League he funded through member items.

Controversy over discretionary funds hit the City Council last month after it was revealed that staffers to City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) held onto member item money by placing a portion of the funds into phantom nonprofits.

Some of the held money went to City Councilman Kendall Stewart (D-Brooklyn), whose former chief of staff and a staffer are the target of a federal investigation for allegedly steering the money to themselves.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.

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