FBI busts NY state senator, NYC councilman for rigging mayoral race

posted at 10:41 am on April 2, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

And here we thought Michael Bloomberg was as bad as it gets.  Instead of having a multi-billionaire buy the office, though, the FBI busted a half-dozen people this morning for allegedly attempting to rig the next New York City mayoral race, which will take place this year.  The good news?  Political corruption is bipartisan:

State Senator Malcolm A. Smith, a contractor and real estate developer who rose to become the first black president of the State Senate, and City Councilman Daniel J. Halloran III were arrested early Tuesday on charges of trying to illicitly get Mr. Smith on the ballot for this year’s mayoral race in New York City, according to federal prosecutors.

Mr. Smith, a Queens Democrat, and Mr. Halloran, a Queens Republican, were among a half-dozen people arrested by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents in the corruption case. Others included Republican County leaders in Queens and the Bronx, the mayor of the Rockland County village of Spring Valley, Noramie F. Jasmin, and her deputy, Joseph A. Desmaret, according to a criminal complaint.

Mr. Smith, 56, was taken from his home in handcuffs by F.B.I. agents before sunrise and Mr. Halloran, a lawyer, was arrested at about the same time, law enforcement authorities said.

The bipartisanship goes beyond the affiliation of the players in the alleged conspiracy.  Smith wanted to run for Bloomberg’s office, but he wanted to run as a Republican.  Why?  Perhaps he thought he could triangulate among his existing supporters and lock up the GOP vote at the same time, or maybe the Democrats in New York have another candidate in mind.  He had joined the “Independent Democratic Conference” in the state Senate, which aligned itself with the GOP, and had talked publicly about a run for NYC mayor at the time.

In order to do that, though, Smith needed to get authorization from Republican county leaders to run on the GOP line.  That’s when the cash started to flow — although, once again, it seems a little odd that Republicans wouldn’t have welcomed a black candidate to run on their party line, or even paid him to do so.  Instead, bribes of $40,000 were proferred and paid to get the documentation needed for the run, with another $40,000 promised afterward to two of the leaders. Halloran got $20,000 for his efforts to secure the documents and bribes.  Also, Smith promised to direct state funds to a road project that would benefit the two men as well as a real-estate developer that turned out to be an undercover FBI agent.

It’s not the first time that the feds have been interested in Smith’s activities, either:

Mr. Smith has been a subject of several criminal inquiries in recent years. One, which had apparently begun by early 2010 and was conducted by federal prosecutors from the same office that sought the indictment that led to Tuesday’s arrests, was focused on a nonprofit linked to Sen. Smith and United States Representative Gregory J. Meeks. In that case, the prosecutors subpoenaed records from Mr. Smith’s Senate office that detailed moneys he had directed to community groups for a decade. Mr. Meeks has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

The subpoena, written broadly, sought information on all of Mr. Smith’s so-called member items — grants to organizations in his Queens district — and any appropriations tied to him since at least 2000, a person with knowledge of the subpoena said at the time.

 Under those circumstances, just how stupid was it to engage in this conspiracy at all? And for what purpose?  Granted, being mayor of New York City is a big deal, but at least on paper, it’s not terribly lucrative.  If these allegations are true, it sounds as if Smith saw this a big deal for other purposes, a view reflected in his recorded response to the question of the value of the endorsement, with shades of Rod Blagojevich noted: “Look, talk to me before you close it. But it’s worth it. Because you know how big a deal it is.”

Maybe having multibillionaires who don’t need corruption to line their pockets are a better option for public service in the Big Apple.  Who’s up for the Donald Trump campaign to replace Bloomberg? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?


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Personally, I like the idea of having people like this direct a national healthcare system; government is the answer.

Bishop on April 2, 2013 at 10:45 AM

And New Yorkers call New Jersey corrupt.

cozmo on April 2, 2013 at 10:46 AM

Suckers in NY love these types of politicians, for the peeps and all.

D-fusit on April 2, 2013 at 10:48 AM

Who’s up for the Donald Trump campaign to replace Bloomberg?

Either that or Howard Stern. Or Zombie John Gotti.

Mr. D on April 2, 2013 at 10:48 AM

Wasn’t Halloran also a GOP Congressional candidate in one of the Queens districts in 2012?

steebo77 on April 2, 2013 at 10:50 AM

Smith promised to direct state funds to a road project that would benefit the two men as well as a real-estate developer that turned out to be an undercover FBI agent.

These people are such rookies. Even Harry Reid ran a more sophisticated scam to make his fortune.

Happy Nomad on April 2, 2013 at 10:51 AM

I told Smith and Halloran to cut back on the large sugared sodas, but they wouldn’t listen!

MaiDee on April 2, 2013 at 10:53 AM

OH! I am glad to be reading this.

I had some reactionaries with money that were considering a move like this on several races and wondering about the legality.

Sort of an “Atlas Angry & Getting Political Power” to straighten the liberal mess out like the Aegean Stables type of thing.

IlikedAUH2O on April 2, 2013 at 10:55 AM

And New Yorkers call New Jersey corrupt.

cozmo on April 2, 2013 at 10:46 AM

Are you suggesting otherwise?

Happy Nomad on April 2, 2013 at 10:59 AM

Vote them all out. They are a disgrace.

BetseyRoss on April 2, 2013 at 11:05 AM

The lsm tags the gop but not the dem natch
Via newsbusters

cmsinaz on April 2, 2013 at 11:05 AM

VOTER FRAUD IS A MYTH!!!

Or so we’ve all been told.

There Goes The Neighborhood on April 2, 2013 at 11:13 AM

Maybe having multibillionaires who don’t need corruption to line their pockets are a better option for public service in the Big Apple. Who’s up for the Donald Trump campaign to replace Bloomberg? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

The thing is that unlike pre-9/11 2001 — when it was given that the Democrats were going to win back City Hall and that ueber-scold Marc Green was going to replace Rudy Giuliani as mayor, so the GOP nomination meant nothing, the current crop of Democratic hopefuls is held in even lower esteem than Bloomberg (hard as that may be to fathom). Plus, the Republicans actually do have a credentialed candidate in former Giuliani aide Joe Lhotta, who was the one who supervised the recent renovations of Madison Square Garden, and got credit for the MTA’s preparations prior to Sandy last year while serving as chairman (i.e., the agency didn’t leave it’s rolling stock in low-lying areas like New Jersey did, and got the salt water out of the subway tunnels and all but a couple of spots in the system reopened as soon as possible.

Lhota’s still a longshot — after two decades, too many New Yorkers are just choping at the bit to finally pull the lever for the actual Democratic mayoral candidate — but the point is the Republicans actually have a challenger who would be the best candidate in the race, just based on experience and accomplishments. That’s why this plot was such a brain-dead scheme, not just by Smith but by all the GOP pols involved who thought they could get some cash and then not just clear the way for a Democrat to run as a Republican, but get the city’s registered Republicans to vote for the Democrat over the actual Republican in September’s primary. Corrupt and stupid at the same time.

jon1979 on April 2, 2013 at 11:15 AM

The bipartisanship goes beyond the affiliation of the players in the alleged conspiracy. Smith wanted to run for Bloomberg’s office, but he wanted to run as a Republican.

Wait. Now I understand how they’re able to see voter fraud. If he were trying to run as a Democrat, THEN it would be a myth.

There Goes The Neighborhood on April 2, 2013 at 11:15 AM

Hmmm, politicians are corrupt… Who would have ever suspected… O_O

SWalker on April 2, 2013 at 11:22 AM

What I got out of this article is that Dems and Republicans are interchangable in NY. Liberal and liberaler?

hopeful on April 2, 2013 at 11:22 AM

This is a really weird NY story…Oh Wait

workingclass artist on April 2, 2013 at 11:35 AM

What I got out of this article is that Dems and Republicans are interchangable in NY. Liberal and liberaler?

hopeful on April 2, 2013 at 11:22 AM

Pretty much. This has got to be the clearest and most picture perfect example I’ve seen yet of the assertion that the two parties have effectively merged and are governing against the will of the people.

Doomberg on April 2, 2013 at 11:40 AM

And New Yorkers call New Jersey corrupt.

cozmo on April 2, 2013 at 10:46 AM

Largely because New Jersey is, by standards set anywhere north of Mexico, corrupt…

JohnGalt23 on April 2, 2013 at 11:44 AM

And New Yorkers call New Jersey corrupt.

cozmo on April 2, 2013 at 10:46 AM

Largely because New Jersey is, by standards set anywhere north of Mexico, corrupt…

JohnGalt23 on April 2, 2013 at 11:44 AM

North of Mexico? Hell try North of Venezuela…

SWalker on April 2, 2013 at 11:51 AM

What did Andy know? Nothing and I mean nothing happens in NYC without the knowlege and consent of whoever is in Albany.

Mr. Grump on April 2, 2013 at 11:54 AM

What I got out of this article is that Dems and Republicans are interchangable in NY. Liberal and liberaler?

hopeful on April 2, 2013 at 11:22 AM

Democrat and Diet Democrat.

Punchenko on April 2, 2013 at 11:55 AM

Nah, so a choice between the corrupt or insanely egotistical?

Ukiah on April 2, 2013 at 11:55 AM

And New Yorkers call New Jersey corrupt.

cozmo on April 2, 2013 at 10:46 AM

Nah, we just think Jersey smells funny.

JetBoy on April 2, 2013 at 11:57 AM

I assume you are joking as to why they would do this. Setting aside the obvious, stupidity combined with lust for power, being mayor of a major city presents opportunities for graft which are unprecedented in the private sector. The same holds true for federal office and as Exhibit A I give you Charles Rangel (D-NY) who, with no apparent outside support in the form of a business, or any experience in that area, nevertheless now owns rent controlled properties throughout the city, as well as a place in DR where he can relax and get away from the travails of spending other people’s money.

Hucklebuck on April 2, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Nah, we just think Jersey smells funny.

JetBoy on April 2, 2013 at 11:57 AM

Not as funny as many parts of Queens, Brooklyn, and Lower Manhattan.

steebo77 on April 2, 2013 at 12:02 PM

If you can’t make it in New York,oh well.

docflash on April 2, 2013 at 12:06 PM

New Yorkers have the choice between Bloomberg nannyism, which gives enough Democrats tingles to pull the lever and keep some semblance of sanity. Or you can go with Democrat “governance” which turns New York into New Detroit which gives Democrats full control over the city.

And the first rule of Democrat Club is to enact policies that keeps Democrat Club in power which means more public housing, welfare, Third World immigrants, etc. etc. post-apocalyptic hell hole.

It’s not such a tough call when you really, really think about it: Do you vote Diet Democrat Bloombergism, or do you vote Mad Max and turn New York into Bartertown with the Democrat?

Punchenko on April 2, 2013 at 12:07 PM

Not as funny as many parts of Queens, Brooklyn, and Lower Manhattan.

steebo77 on April 2, 2013 at 12:02 PM

THIS

JetBoy on April 2, 2013 at 12:15 PM

And New Yorkers call New Jersey corrupt.

cozmo on April 2, 2013 at 10:46 AM

Pffft! Chicagoans call you both pikers.

Fallon on April 2, 2013 at 12:18 PM

Mr. Smith, a Queens Democrat, and Mr. Halloran, a Queens Republican

I bet they’re both Mets fans. Mets are inherently corrupt.

rbj on April 2, 2013 at 12:25 PM

Blogo’s got to be snickering in his cell this morning.

lea on April 2, 2013 at 12:51 PM

The reason they were taken down is because the FBI undercover agent discovered they were using money clips larger than seven bills during the payoff–which is a direct violation of Cuomo’s anti-protection gun mandate.

Don L on April 2, 2013 at 1:31 PM

Vote them all out. They are a disgrace.

BetseyRoss on April 2, 2013 at 11:05 AM

If the people of New York haven’t figured it out by now, they aren’t going to. Elections have consequences, I’m not going to shed a tear for them. I thank God every day that I live in fly over country.

TulsAmerican on April 2, 2013 at 1:38 PM

Disappointed. I liked Halloran.

Connie on April 2, 2013 at 2:08 PM

Who’s up for the Donald Trump campaign to replace Bloomberg?

Ed Morrisey

.
Either that or Howard Stern. Or Zombie John Gotti.

Mr. D on April 2, 2013 at 10:48 AM

.
I’d take Howard Stern . . . . . . . but would he be willing to step away from broadcasting ?

listens2glenn on April 2, 2013 at 2:32 PM

Blogo’s got to be snickering in his cell this morning.

lea on April 2, 2013 at 12:51 PM

.
: )

listens2glenn on April 2, 2013 at 2:34 PM

I’ll offer my personal guarantee that Andy knew about the whole thing. Nothing but nothing happens politically in NYC that the Governor doesn’t know about and/or signs off on.

Mr. Grump on April 3, 2013 at 7:41 AM