Former State Senator Carl Kruger’s chief of staff is heading back to work… on the reelection campaign of Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz.
City and State revealed yesterday that Jason Koppel, who served as Kruger’s chief-of-staff and campaign treasurer, and whose name came up in at least one of the FBI’s probes into Kruger, is now working as a consultant for Team Cymbrowitz.
“I call him and ask him about things that are important to the community, and that’s the extent of it,” Cymbrowitz told City and State. “He’s very well-connected on my constituents issues.”
Koppel recently resigned as Kruger’s campaign treasurer, where he sat on a trove of $417,000 even though his old boss is behind bars. And, as the FBI probe into Kruger’s dealings became public, it was discovered that Koppel received a 40 percent raise over the 16 months of the investigation, making him the highest-paid legislative staffer in Albany, raking in $162,442 a year.
It is not yet known how much Cymbrowitz is paying Koppel for his consulting services, as his hiring came after the time period covered by Cymbrowitz’s latest campaign financial filings.
Besides his well-paid work for the now-imprisoned pol, Koppel’s name surfaced in an FBI investigation that led to the arrest and conviction of Rasputin Nightclub owner and Russian Dolls “star” Michael Levitis.
Levitis was recorded by an FBI informant saying he would help a fellow restaurateur gain favor with Kruger by passing a bribe off to Koppel after taking a cut for himself. He was sentenced to three years probation and fined $15,000 for lying to FBI agents.
All of that said, political observers are cautioning against guilt-by-association. City and State notes:
As a couple of Brooklyn political observers noted when contacted for this story, Koppel has been extremely thoroughly vetted since then — and never has been charged with any wrongdoing. That’s even as the U.S. attorney’s office recorded years of conversations among Kruger and others that were used as evidence against the senator, and Kruger himself cut a deal on a plea agreement.