Queens State Senator Toby Stavisky—the ranking member of the Committee on Higher Education—has raked in tens of thousands of dollars in donations from for-profit colleges, one of tied to a bribery scandal that took down an assemblyman from her home borough in 2009.
Stavisky has taken more than $23,000 in contributions from Forest Hills’ Plaza College, its owners and its affiliates since 2002—$18,500 of it since federal agents arrested the late Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio on corruption charges related to the school in 2008. One of the affiliates that gave to Stavisky, Collegiate Management Associates—which U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara labeled a “shell company”—served as a conduit for Plaza College provost Charles Callahan III to funnel $170,350 in bribes to Seminerio in exchange for legislation favorable to the for-profit institution.
Bharara’s criminal complaint against Seminerio also alleged the assemblyman unsuccessfully sought to get Callahan III appointed to the state Board of Regents, which controls New York’s public schools, and assisted him in navigating various agencies.
Collegiate Management Associates gave Stavisky $1,000 in August 2014. She took another grand from the college itself that October, $1,000 again in 2015, and reported taking the same amount from the school in her filings last month.