Sunday, April 14, 2013

Albany Misc: Legis-Scandals, Double-Jeoparding Bruno, & Court Pick Abdus-Salaam (Part 1: the recent arrests)

Three items: 2 loathsome and 1 welcome. A few brief comments on each.

1st, the federal investigations and arrests of New York legislators for corruption. These include the arrest several days ago of Malcolm Smith, a leading Democratic state senator. He allegedly bribed some influential New York City Republicans to help him secure that party's nomination to run for mayor.

The headlines [with links to the articles] tell the stories. Yes, reality is more outlandish and outrageous than fiction:
Lawmakers in New York Tied to Bribery Plot in Mayor Race, by Michael Wilson and William  K. Rashbaum, NY Times, April 2, 2013.
State Sen. Malcolm Smith, city Councilman Halloran arrested in 'bribery plot' to rig mayor race, by Josh Margolin, Lorena Mongelli and Erin Calabrese, NY Post, April 2, 2013.
Malcolm Smith arrested in FBI bribery probe, by Jimmy Vielkind, Albany Times Union [Capitol Confidential], April 2, 2013.
Bharara: Smith bribery case is like ‘Groundhog Day,’ by Casey Seiler, Albany Times Union [Capitol Confidential], April 2, 2013.
One Assemblyman charged, another to resign, by Casey Seiler, Albany Times Union [Capitol Confidential], April 4, 2013.
My own reaction? Primarily, it's the response I gave when asked to compare corrupt politicians to street criminals:
"The drug dealer knows exactly what he is," Bonventre said, "and doesn't try to convince himself or anyone else that he's any better." (Trading information for leniency, by Casey Seiler, Albany Times Union, April 4, 2013.)
Anyone who has observed some of those characters who, whether in Albany or Washington or other center of government, strut the halls of power with a self-satisfied over-inflated view of themselves, is never too shocked when these "public servants" turn out to be much less than they're supposed to be. Yes, Gramps, the world is a fake.

Yes, I've met and worked with many exceptional individuals in government--in the judicial and executive branches, as well as the legislative. Extremely capable, conscientious, dedicated, ethical. Knowing them and working with them has been a great source of pride.

But as anyone who has studied government or worked in it is well aware, more than a little of it and more than a few who hold high office and power in it are indeed "a fake," as my Grandfather would say. So the alleged criminal activity may be outrageous, deplorable, despicable. But not necessarily surprising.

2nd, speaking of outrageous, deplorable, despicable--at least in my view and that of a growing chorus of lawyers--is the ongoing effort of federal prosecutors to re-prosecute former State Senator Joe Bruno.
We'll address that in the next post. But meantime....

For those who are interested, here's the link to my interview last week on Fred Dicker: Live from the State Capitol! Mr. Dicker questioned me on all 3 items in the title--and more:  [Interview begins at 29:25.]