By Jon Campbell, Albany Bureau
ALBANY The president of a national group opposed to same-sex marriage says it doesn't take much to read between the lines of former Sen. James Alesi's new job.
"Does anyone really need to guess? It's payback," Brian Brown, the head of the National Organization for Marriage, said with a hearty laugh Tuesday.
Alesi was tapped by Gov. Andrew Cuomo last month for a $90,800-a-year job as a member of the state Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board. The longtime lawmaker from the Rochester area was one of four Republican senators to provide key support for same-sex marriage in 2011, one of Cuomo's major accomplishments during his first term in office.
"Come on," Brown said via telephone. "Cuomo talks a lot about corruption, but when his buddies vote his way, he's more than willing to give them a high-paying job in the administration. That's all this is. Give me a break."
Alesi, R-Perinton, Monroe County, stepped away from his re-election bid in 2012 after it was clear he was facing a difficult primary challenge and dwindling support in his party. His new salary is set by state law.
On Saturday, both Alesi and a Cuomo spokesman touted the former lawmaker's credentials for the position, including various spots on the Senate's labor and economic development committees. The position had been vacant since 2011, and Alesi's term runs through mid-November 2017.
"The cynics ... spend way too much time focusing on negative things in their lives," Alesi said. "I see this as a positive both for me and for the people of this state. It's my understanding this position was open for more than a year."
Jason McGuire, executive director of the Spencerport-based New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, said Alesi's appointment is "not a wise use of tax dollars."
McGuire's group unsuccessfully sued the state to try and get the same-sex marriage law overturned.
"The moral of this story is that no matter what, Governor Cuomo will protect his own," McGuire said