State Senator Jose Peralta says he did not have any illegal discussions with his former colleague, Shirley Huntley, when she secretly recorded him last year.
“I was as surprised as anybody to have my name on this list,” Peralta told The Queens Courier. “I did no wrong-doing whatsoever. I know that nothing on these tapes would implicate me on anything with the exception of the fact that I was recorded.”
Peralta said his lawyers were assured by authorities that he is not the topic of a federal investigation, unlike some others on the list released last week. State Senators Malcolm Smith and John Sampson were arrested within a month of each other on federal corruption charges. Prosecutors have not confirmed whether
Huntley’s cooperation with the FBI aided in those arrests.
Because there are still ongoing investigations, Peralta could not say what he discussed with Huntley.
However, he did say that it was nothing of substance and “people will be scratching their heads” at the content recorded.
Peralta’s own tenure in the Senate came on the heels of another legislator’s removal from the chamber.
He won a special election in March 2010 after the Senate voted to expel disgraced pol Hiram Monserrate, who was convicted of a misdemeanor. Monserrate tried to reclaim his seat in the special election, but with the loss of the Democrats’ backing, he finished third.
“I ran against someone who really shocked the confidence of his constituents,” Peralta said. “I wanted to make sure I was as transparent and as forward-thinking as possible.”
Peralta said the recordings of seven elected officials and two political consultants were an effort by Huntley to point fingers and divert charges away from her.
“She must have thought she can get [a plea bargain] by pointing fingers at others,” he said. “I’m not saying there are no bad apples,” but “most of us are hardworking, transparent individuals.”
Peralta told The Courier that since he is not under investigation, the wiretap will not impact his run for borough president.
“I think it’s a minor setback, of course,” he said. “But I’ve been on the campaign trail and people see it for what it is.”