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Russell Simmons is upset with the media. So upset, that he has addressed them head on. This, coming from a man who laughs with paparazzi, shoulder-dusting on the reg.

The New York Post reported last week (complete with “bad rap” puns in the headline) that Russell and Jay were beefing over New York’s Aqueduct redevelopment bid, a project that both of them were competing for, suggesting that Russell was upset that Jay’s bidder, AEG, won the contract, rather than Russell’s bidder, Penn National. The rag also reported that Jay’s close ties with New York’s troubled Governor Patterson were the “reason” why Jay’s bid was accepted over Russell’s, (complete with “99 Problems” pun).

Russell called these allegations ludicrous – not to be confused with the rapper, he clarifies – but just crazy, outlandish; almost like Russell himself not showing up to yoga (his words). He also goes on to defend Jay-Z as a businessman and friend, deading any rumors to the contrary. He clarifies that he was instead baffled at the prospect of why Penn National wasn’t chosen, but never had suggested it had anything to do with scandals, beef with Jay-Z, or the price of bootlegs on Canal Street.

The full statement reads as follows:

I don’t generally respond to the media’s trash or their never ending thirst for blood. I smile at the paparazzi and joke with the gossip writers. I laugh at most of the headlines that are written about me and dust the dirt off my shoulders.

Speaking of dusting the dirt off my shoulders, I find it typical, not shocking, that this past week, many small-minded members bloggers tried to make up a feud between me and my good friend, Jay-Z, over New York’s much maligned Aqueduct redevelopment bid.

It is much easier for the media to spread negative gossip than to report on real news, like healthcare reform or the catastrophe in Chile. Jay-Z is a champion, a hero, a friend of mine and I have proudly watched him raise a generation with his poetry. For the media to infer that Jay-Z is involved in any corrupt scandal is ludicrous, not the rapper, Ludacris, but ludicrous, like crazy…ludicrous, like me eating a piece of meat…ludicrous, like me not showing up for yoga, ludicrous like Jay-Z not being the King of New York, that kind of ludicrous. And what’s even more ludicrous is that they write that I am at odds with Jay. We have each endorsed our respective bidders for the Aqueduct deal, and my real question was never about Jay (I would bet my house that Jay-Z doesn’t have a crooked bone in his body), but about the decision making process in Albany. I am still mystified why New York State didn’t take the highest bid. Penn National Gaming, which I endorsed, offered $100 million more than any other competitor, and the State said that they only would accept the winning bidder, AEG’s, bid on the condition that they come up with an additional $100 million to match Penn National’s. That seemed to me fundamentally unfair as a bidding process, and totally untransparent.

I want to make a point that my intentions are clear. I have zero interest in gambling or horse-racing. I got involved with the Aqueduct project not as an investor but solely as an advisor on community and humanitarian matters, about which I care deeply. Knowing that this area of my native Queens is going to be developed by somebody, I want to get the best deal for the millions of people who live in struggling communities in New York City. By taking this partnership with Penn National, I have received $500,000 to run a philanthropic, social responsible program on behalf of Penn National. We have already funded a pilot program to promote non-violence in my old neighborhood of Hollis and South Jamaica, Queens as well as East New York, Brooklyn. I am committed to working with Penn National on building social and sustainable development, as well as fighting for key legislation that will outlaw the abuse of horses that is taking place on many racetracks across America.

I hope that whoever is the eventual winner of this bid, that they make the same community commitments that Penn National has already put into place. Lastly, I hope that Albany gets its house in order, and does what is best for the people of the great state of New York. [Source: GG]

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