‘All of this comes out of the fact that we have partisan elections when cities aren’t partisan,” Mayor Bloomberg said last week, drawing his own moral from the alleged Malcolm Smith-Dan Halloran crimes.
Wrong, Mike. Yes, part of the conspiracy involved payoffs to get Smith a chance to run on the Republican line — but there were also those alleged efforts to corruptly steer state funds in Spring Valley. Not to mention the arrests that came later in the week, involving utterly nonpartisan efforts to favor some Bronx businessmen.
More important, Bloomberg seems to think he has nothing to do with the corruption of city politics, when he in fact has played the game like a master — even while staying inside the bounds of the law.
Chad Rachman/New York Post
Chutzpah: Mayor Bloomberg has played the buy-the-third-party game like a master.
He’s used his billions to play in the Republican and Independence parties’ sandbox.
In 2009, Bloomberg handed over $750,000 to Queens GOP operative John Haggerty, who promptly stole most of it. It was probably tip money to our billionaire Mayor.
You don’t rent the city and state Senate GOP and the Fulani-led Independence Party for over a decade, then pretend you’re Caesar’s wife.
Bloomberg also bought a third term — legally (I guess) bribing the City Council for an exemption to the term-limits law.
The fact is, Republicans have reigned over New York City for two decades because of third-party support, either Liberal (Rudy Giuliani) or Independence (Bloomberg). And that support came at a price: patronage jobs or cash.
Yet the GOP’s been withering everywhere but the top of the ticket. Bronx GOP leader Jay Savino doesn’t have single local elected officeholder as a rainmaker.
These days, the Bronx Republican Party is mostly five guys and an office. One source said that the Bronx Democrats have often had to back them at the Board of Election. So, it should come as no surprise that Savino monetized his brand, allegedly selling Malcolm Smith his support for Smith to run on the GOP line.
Or that elements in the Queens Republican Party did the same. After all, Bloomberg’s been legally buying the same sort of local-party approvals for over a decade, with donations that don’t count as graft.
“That’s politics. That’s politics. It’s all about how much,” conceded City Councilman Dan Halloran on a secret FBI recording. “You can’t do anything without the f—ing money.”
Independence Party nominee Adolfo Carrion — with his $1 million warchest — is also seeking a waiver to run in the GOP primary. But he has his own checkered past: Unproved “play-to-pay” allegations have plagued him before and after his White House service.
And of course one of those arrested for selling the Queens GOP’s ballot-access OK to Smith was a top aide to another Democrat-turned-Republican seeking the same approvals, John Catsimatidis. He’s now fired Vince Tabone, but the taint leaves everyone wondering how many of Catsimatidis’ endorsements, from ex-Gov. George Pataki on down, were purchased. (Catsimatidis, like Bloomberg, has the wealth do so legally.)
I’m stunned that the state GOP hasn’t responded by shouting to all, “The Republican Party is not for sale.” This scandal demands a vigorous denunciation.
If the state Republicans won’t demand better of their leaders, then let’s hope US Attorney Preet Bharara keeps on using his bully pulpit to urge New Yorkers to “demand more” from their government.
“Any time you have a situation that happens again and again and again and it happens to people that should know better … then something is broken in the system.”
With 54 political offices open for election this November, voters (and the media) will have their hands full vetting the myriad of candidates running. If recent history is an accurate predictor, at least two or three new klepticians will be elected to public office and indicted within the next six years.
Bharara could blanket the city with billboards depicting elected officials in handcuffs and warning: “Do the crime. Do the time,” and it wouldn’t be enough to clean up this town. Voters have to put up signs declaring, “Grifters and grafters need not apply.”
And billionaires like Mike Bloomberg need to stop playing the game even as they denounce it.