The face of corruption has once again reared its ugly head in New York state politics. At this stage in the game, no one should be surprised.
Last week, two prominent, up-and-coming Queens politicians, a Democrat, State Sen. Malcolm Smith, and a Republican, New York City Councilman Dan Halloran, were taken away in handcuffs during an FBI raid. This unlikely bipartisan duo is accused of outright bribery, using money in an attempt to sway Republican officials to allow Smith to run for Mayor of New York City on the Republican line, even though he’s a Democrat.
Deputy Queens GOP Chairman Vince Tabone and Bronx Republican Chairman Joseph Savino, along with two other upstate politicians, were also taken into custody.
Smith was desperate to achieve his lifetime goal of running for mayor. He attempted to obtain a Wilson Pakula, which in political terms means an agreement for a someone to run on the opposite party’s line. In order to secure this agreement, Smith needed permission from three of the city’s five Republican leaders.
So Smith put crooked Councilman Halloran to work. The pair planned to give envelopes of cold, hard cash to GOP officials in the Bronx and Queens, and in return Smith would use his office to obtain $500,000 in state funding to benefit a real estate developer, who would hand over the bribes to the Republican leaders.
Unfortunately for Smith and Halloran, the developer was an undercover FBI agent. According to the 28-page federal criminal complaint, Halloran was captured on tape stating, “You can’t do anything without the [expletive] money. Money is what greases the wheels — good, bad or indifferent.”
Mr. Halloran, you should be ashamed of yourself.
The corruption was so blatant that Savino was allegedly given an envelope containing $15,000, and Tabone was given one stuffed with $25,000.
It’s completely disgusting. This is the type of back-door politics you would’ve expected to see during the Tammany era, but for New Yorkers, it’s all too common. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara described the scandal as “an unappetizing smorgasbord of graft and greed.”