Alfonse Martello D'Amato (born August 1, 1937) is a former New York politician. A Republican, he served as United States Senator from New York from 1981 until 1999, after his loss to Democratic Congressman Charles Schumer.
D'Amato was born in Brooklyn, New York and raised on Long Island. His political career started with the Nassau County Republican Party, where he was elected public administrator in 1970 and town supervisor for Hempstead, New York in 1977. As a rather obscure candidate, he then defeated incumbent Jacob Javits in the 1980 Senate Republican primary, taking advantage of Javits' 1979 diagnosis of generally fatal amytrophic lateral sclerosis. Javits nevertheless pursued the seat on the Liberal Party ticket, splitting the left-wing vote in ordinarily liberal New York with Democratic Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman and leading to D'Amato's 45% plurality victory. This victory is largely credited to his campaign manager, Arthur Finkelstein.
D'Amato drew the nickname Senator Pothole for his delivery of "constituent services," helping citizens with their individual cases. Many New Yorkers meant the nickname as a pejorative; D'Amato had a reputation for focusing on constituent service mostly during election years .
While he was in office, he was chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, and was a member of the Senate Finance Committee. As a member of the latter, he championed the cause of Holocaust survivors trying to recover relatives' funds from accounts in Swiss banks.
D'Amato is divorced and has four children. He has dated several well-known personalities, including Claudia Cohen, entertainment television reporter. He is now managing director of Computer Associates.
D'Amato is also known for his public controversies and brash style. After a series of investigations in 1991, the Senate Ethics Committee reprimanded D'Amato for allowing his brother Armand , a lobbyist, to use office stationery to help solicit million-dollar Navy contracts for Unisys. The Senator was fined and reprimanded, while his brother served time in jail. The committee stated: "The activities of Sen. D'Amato's brother on behalf of Unisys constituted a misuse. Sen. D'Amato conducted the business of his office in an improper and innappropriate manner."
During the Don Imus radio program on April 4, 1995, he used a mock Japanese accent to impersonate Lance Ito, a Japanese American judge overseeing the ongoing O. J. Simpson trial (Ito does not, in fact, have an ethnic accent). He later apologized on the Senate floor for his comments.
In 1994, he insulted Betsy McCaughey Ross, the Republican candidate for New York Lieutenant Governor; he joked that in order to get an endorsement for her running mate, George Pataki, she should have sex with New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani.
In October, 1998, D'Amato was criticized for insulting Congressman Jerry Nadler at a public gathering. According to USAToday, D'Amato "referred to the heavyset Nadler as 'Congressman Waddler.' He also did a physical imitation of Nadler, D-N.Y., waddling like a duck."  D'Amato subsequently apologized, saying, "It was a poor attempt at humor, and I was wrong, and I apologized to him."