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Jay-Z stake in Aqueduct slots deal draws scrutiny

Comments: 21

Last Updated: 3:34 PM, February 22, 2010

Posted: 5:49 AM, February 21, 2010

Gov. Paterson has 99 problems -- and Jay-Z might be one of them.

The governor's friendship with the hip-hop impresario is raising questions because of the latter's involvement with AEG, the consortium controversially selected to run a multibillion-dollar racino at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Paterson's bond with the man born Shawn Carter was growing at the same time that Jay-Z was being courted to join the Aqueduct Entertainment Group.

Paterson tabbed AEG in late January to turn the aging track into a slick gaming venue with 4,500 video slot machines.

WireImagePOWER TRIO: Jay-Z, with Beyoncé and Gov. Paterson, was growing closer to the governor last year, even as Aqueduct racino bidder AEG offered a stake to the star.
WireImage
POWER TRIO: Jay-Z, with Beyoncé and Gov. Paterson, was growing closer to the governor last year, even as Aqueduct racino bidder AEG offered a stake to the star.

But the deal is under federal investigation after questions were raised about the secret selection process.

Last Aug. 31, Jay-Z and his wife, Beyoncé, shared a podium with Paterson to announce that Jay-Z would stage a 9/11 benefit concert at Madison Square Garden.

In early September, AEG Chairman Richard Mays approached Jay-Z through his business partners and asked whether he would be interested in joining the consortium -- which at the time ranked last among six bidders seeking the lucrative project.

Within days, Jay-Z had agreed to take a 7 percent stake in AEG through one of his companies, Gain Global Investments Network LLC.

Jay-Z, 40, had long been interested in the project, sources said. In spring 2009, he'd begun talking with casino mogul Steve Wynn about joining Wynn's bid to operate the racino.

No deal was hammered out, and Las Vegas-based Wynn Resorts Limited, frustrated by the long review process and its murky rules, eventually bowed out.

"Paterson directly told Wynn he needed to have a minority partner, so he went and got Jay-Z. But when Wynn pulled out, Jay-Z was without a home," a source told The Post. "AEG went and grabbed Jay-Z after his deal with Steve Wynn fell through."

AEG jumped at the chance to recruit Jay-Z, who has become increasingly close to Paterson, sources said. The two dined together in June and hung out in the Hamptons.

After attending the 9/11 concert at Madison Square Garden as Jay-Z's guest, Paterson wrote to MTV: "I can personally attest to his commitment to New York and the impact he has on New Yorkers of all ages. He is most definitely deserving of the top-MC-of-2009 title."

AEG denies that it courted Jay-Z to win favor with the governor.

"Given [Jay-Z's] superstardom and his long and deep connection to New York, the partners thought he could bring a unique perspective to shaping a facility that would truly be an entertainment destination," AEG spokesman Jonathan Rosen said. "The partners were looking to bring in someone who could bring marketing and community advice to the team."

A Paterson spokeswoman added: "There is absolutely no relationship between Governor Paterson's friendship with Jay-Z and the choice of AEG."

Still. Jay-Z seems an odd fit with the group, considering that he brags in his music about having dealt drugs in his youth -- not to mention that he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault and was sentenced to three years' probation for stabbing a record executive in a 1999 nightclub melee.

One member of the AEG consortium, Darryl Greene, has already been forced to drop out over his criminal past. He'd fleeced city agencies out of $500,000.

Paterson's relationship with others in the AEG consortium has also drawn criticism. Three days after the winning bid was announced this month, he met with the Rev. Floyd Flake, an AEG partner and Queens political kingmaker, in the governor's Harlem office. The two later said that they talked politics but that there was no quid pro quo.

Meanwhile, Paterson continues to pal around with Jay-Z, even lauding him last month in Esquire for supporting the administration through some rough patches.

"Jay tells me, 'I've got your back,' " the governor told the magazine.

Additional reporting by Carl Campanile

akarni@nypost.com

Comments (17)

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  • Report Abuse

    Smashicus

    02/22/2010 4:04 PM

    Hey datroof, all you got is in your hand. People, and I mean all kinds of people are tired of your ignorant, violent lifestyles. You haven't seen the people angry yet, and believe me you don't want to because that will be the last you see.

  • Report Abuse

    neversleep

    02/22/2010 9:05 AM

    Based on what I've read here, some people don't need a Racino anywhere... they're already losers.

  • Report Abuse

    econnor

    02/21/2010 6:19 PM

    Jay -Z the multi millionnaire, chart topping, mogul, entrepreneur, musical genius supports Governor Paterson. The NY Post can't stand it. Believe me, there are quite a few other big names who support the Governor. He has already made history and he is in it to win. The NY Post through its blatant racism may be forcing many others to join the campaign.
    WELCOME TO NEW YORK —— Jay Z has the Governor's back. I wish that Jay-Z would buy this newspaper. Maybe there would be some truth in reporting.

  • Report Abuse

    ProgressiveEducationHasRuinedAmerica

    02/21/2010 2:18 PM

    Yep, the black mafia is out in force defending this untalented hack's stake in a disgraceful case of black cronyism. Has anyone else noticed that these anti-white black commentators only ever show their face in the Post comments when it's to defend some rapper or thug? That's all they're interested in.

  • Report Abuse

    econnor

    02/21/2010 2:03 PM

    Jay -Z the multi millionnaire, chart topping, mogul, entrepreneur, musical genius supports Governor Paterson. The NY Post can't stand it. Believe me, there are quite a few other big names who support the Governor. He has already made history and he is in it to win. The NY Post through its blatant racism may be forcing many others to join the campaign.
    WELCOME TO NEW YORK —— Jay Z has the Governor's back. I wish that Jay-Z would buy this newspaper. Maybe there would be some truth in reporting.

  • Report Abuse

    BRWNSUGA08

    02/21/2010 1:24 PM

    SMH!! So now White America will see Paterson has ties with a thug!! HELLO MAFIA CONTROLS THE COURTS IN NYC!! HMMM.. Keep doing you Jay!! Regardless of what you do in life whte folks will always have something to say!! Go figure!!

  • Report Abuse

    da troof

    02/21/2010 11:40 AM

    NOWHERE in this article does it mention that he has more Billboard #1 albums than Elvis (11). This is why NOBODY buys this paper in my hood. Because of the overt double standard. Jay, keep doing your thing. White men, will ALWAYS be haters. We never grew up caring what they thought. Don't start now. Buy what you can, and what you want. Nobody gave you anything, and you made that money, in a music biz, designed to steal from black artists. Most people will NEVER achieve in life what you have. SO the fact that you cant get a fair article convinces me that success doesnt matter to haters. later for them, their daughters love you.

  • Report Abuse

    da troof

    02/21/2010 11:30 AM

    if he werent black, this would be a non-story. never ceases to amaze me, how you pasty zealots, bring into play a black man's history. flake is a rev., so he shouldnt do it. jay used to sell drugs, so he shouldnt. whos good enough for you? I bet if it were a group led by "Rabbi Sol Berstein", and a consortium of j3ws, this would not be worthy. stop being haters, it looks bad on you.

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