Normally, hearing that someone has won big at a casino is a cause for joy, or perhaps a little bit of jealousy. In the New York State Assembly, though, it has become a source of suspicion over where one assemblywoman’s pay day might really have come from.
The New York Daily News reported earlier this week that Bronx-based New York State Assemblywoman Carmen Arroyo had declared close to $30,000 in casino gambling winnings on her annual financial disclosure forms. That’s not unusual in and of itself: politicians often have to release such forms, and with many being rather wealthy, having gambling winnings show up on them isn’t unheard of.
But in Arroyo’s case, a history of questionable ethics and a lack of any gambling history have made some suspicious abut where that money might really be from.
“I have never heard of her gambling before, ever,” an unnamed Albany insider told the Daily News. “I don’t believe it for a second that that money came from a casino.”
Those sorts of accusations might seem like a shot in the dark from political rivals, if it weren’t for past accusations against Arroyo and her family. Both Arroyo and her daughter, Councilwoman Maria del Carmen Arroyo, have had allegations of misusing money for family-run nonprofit organizations thrown at them. Arroyo’s grandson was also caught embezzling $115,000 from one of those nonprofits.
Some Bronx residents said they hoped that the allegations were false, if only to avoid yet another scandal. The New York City borough has already seen two other Assembly members brought up on charges of bribery and perjury earlier this year.
“If she won, then good for her,” said South Bronx resident Mychal Johnson. “I hope her story pans out because we don’t need another blemish on our community.”
If Arroyo were to be found falsifying her financial disclosures, she could end up paying a $40,000 fine.
Carmen Arroyo was the first Puerto Rican (and Hispanic) woman elected to the New York State Assembly. She has held her seat since winning a special election in 1994. Her daughter has also been a New York City Councilmember since 2005.