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Malcolm in the muddle : State senator arrested in corruption scandal

STEPHON JOHNSON Amsterdam News Staff | 4/5/2013, 10:08 a.m.
Malcolm in the muddle : State senator arrested in corruption scandal

Former New York City Comptroller and New York City mayoral candidate Bill Thompson talked about a system that hasn't caught up to the needs and desires of the people of New York.

"These most recent developments are the latest in a history of corruption and a broken system that, despite claims to the contrary, has clearly not been adequately reformed under the Speaker's leadership. New Yorkers deserve a government as good as the people it represents." Thompson said that under his administration, there would be "zero tolerance" for violating the public trust.

As a result of the indictments, the Republican primary for New York City mayor looks more intriguing than it might have been previously. Prior to his arrest, Tabone worked for John Catsimatidis' campaign and Halloran had recently publicly endorsed former MTA Chairman Joe Lhota for mayor. Catsimatidis already went on record stating that he's cooperating with the investigation while Lhota's been busy attacking Council Speaker Christine Quinn for supporting an NYPD inspector general and attending the New York Yankee home opener with former mayor Rudy Giuliani.

A Catsimatidis campaign staffer announced later on Tuesday that the mayoral hopeful fired Tabone.

"Today's charges demonstrate, once again, that a show-me-the-money culture seems to pervade every level of New York government," said Bharara. "The complaint describes an unappetizing smorgasbord of graft and greed involving six officials who together built a corridor of corruption stretching from Queens and the Bronx to Rockland County and all the way up to Albany itself."

Stating that corruption in state politics is pervasive might not be music to New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo's ears. Cuomo, while speaking with WAMC Northeast Public Radio, expressed disappointment in the news of the scandal and hoped that all parties cooperate with the authorities.

"The allegations are very serious," said Cuomo. "I was the attorney general. I spent more time working on political reform and political corruption than probably any attorney general in modern political history. So I take it very seriously, and they are serious allegations.

"And I hope that he fully cooperates with the investigation, and I hope the investigation is thorough and speedy and gets to the facts," continued Cuomo. "But it is very, very troubling."

"I'm sorry to hear that federal charges brought against Sen. Malcolm Smith. I am looking to see the outcome," Assemblywoman Inez Barron told the AmNews.

New York City Public Advocate and New York City mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio said, "Sadly, today's news is the latest in a long line of wrong and improper use of discretionary funds. To restore the public trust, we need a real investigation into this troubling pattern of abusing taxpayer dollars for political gain. It's time for real reform and transparency. We've heard reports that discretionary funds were used to punish council members for political purposes. We've even seen some council members go to jail for illegally using these funds.

"The system is clearly broken, and it's time for real reform," de Blasio said.

FBI New York Assistant Director George Venizelos also spoke of the people's trust in elected officials and stated that citizens of New York had a right to expect better from those in office.

"Elected officials are called public servants because they are supposed to serve the people," Venizelos. "Public service is not supposed to be a shortcut to self-enrichment. People in New York, in Spring Valley--in any city or town in this country--rightly expect their elected or appointed representatives to hold themselves to a higher standard. At the very least, public officials should obey the law.

"As alleged, these defendants did not obey the law; they broke the law and the public trust," Venizelos continued. "There is a price to pay for that kind of betrayal."

While Smith, Halloran and company might have betrayed the people, many New Yorkers have been cynical about local politics for a long time. What the FBI caught Halloran allegedly stating might drive that cynicism farther down the rabbit hole.

"That's politics, that's politics; it's all about how much," Halloran allegedly said on tape. "Not whether or will--it's about how much, and those are our politicians in New York, they're all like that ... And they get like that because of the drive that the money does for everything else."