Lawmakers Stand by Skelos Amid Federal Probe

ALBANY (AP) -

Republican lawmakers in New York backed Senate Leader Dean Skelos on Tuesday amid a federal investigation into whether he influenced Nassau County’s decision to award a $12 million contract to a company that hired his son.

Sen. John DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse, said he sees no reason to question Skelos’ leadership and that he remains focused on the final two months of the legislative session.

“Even if you were accused, I would say, at least in this country there still is a presumption of innocence,” DeFrancisco told reporters gathered outside Skelos’s office. “We still believe in innocent until proven guilty, and let’s get some work done.”

Skelos said last week that he is cooperating with the investigation.

He did not speak to reporters before the Senate convened. But rank-and-file Republican senators were quick to defend their leader.

“Don’t you think we’re being a little presumptuous?” asked Sen. Kenneth LaValle, R-Long Island.