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Only in politics: State senator hosting 'virtual golf outing'

March 11, 2014

Political fundraisers are ubiquitous and as such usually do not warrant attention, but New York State Senator Malcolm A. Smith merits a special commendation for his fundraising creativity.

Smith, who represents New York's 14th Senate District, is running for re-election, despite having been indicted on federal bribery charges, and is hosting a "virtual golf outing" on March 24 to buttress his campaign war chest.

Apparently no actual golf will be played and no outing of any sort will be held. It appears that it's simply an unusual way to solicit donations. The invitation shown here features a photo of an unnamed golf course, but there is no mention of an actual golf course or any other location. The cost is $100 an individual, $250 for a twosome and $500 for a foursome.

It isn't the first time that Smith has made news for a golf fundraiser that included no golf. In August of 2008, a controversy emerged from his hosting 75 lobbyists for a golf outing. The golf was canceled by rain, but Smith, according to the New York Times, "told lobbyists at a golf outing that they should contribute money now, implying that if they did not and the Democrats won control of the Senate, they would be sorry, according to reports attributed to people who heard Mr. Smith's remarks...Democrats said the comments were an attempt at humor that went awry."

Smith responded with a written statement: "We have real issues on the table that need to be dealt with. Further, we were on the day in question at a golf outing. Rain forced us indoors. And like any good host it was important to entertain all guests. That is simply what occurred. And nothing else."

As for that pending virtual golf outing, no rain is in the forecast.