Political Animal


April 02, 2013 10:22 AM The Big Apple’s Big Political Scandal

By Ed Kilgore

I haven’t followed New York City politics very closely in a long time (certainly not like I did in 1965 when my father kinda lost it upon discovering I was staying up far past bedtime to follow that year’s Gotham mayoral contest—“Why do you care?”).

But gotta say, the latest Big Apple political scandal sounds appropriate large and sordid: a Democratic state senator, the very same one who recently helped sell out his party to give Republicans partial control of the state legislature, was allegedly trying to bribe Republicans to let him run for mayor on their ticket. Here’s the New York Times’ William Rashbaum on the FBI sting that snared both Sen. Malcolm Smith and a whole bunch o’ local Republican party bosses:

Mr. Smith, according to the complaint, agreed with a cooperating witness and an undercover F.B.I. agent, who was masquerading as a wealthy real estate developer, to pay off leaders of Republican county committees in New York’s five boroughs. The bribes were to be paid to obtain specific certificates authorizing him to run for mayor as a Republican even though he was a registered Democrat….
The complaint details a brazen scheme hatched in a series of clandestine meetings in hotels, parked cars, restaurants and Mr. Smith’s office in Albany. The meetings, recorded by the undercover agent or the cooperating witness, were primarily among Mr. Smith, the undercover agent and the witness, and Mr. Halloran [a Republican city councilman arrested along with Smith] and the two government operatives.
Most of those involved, according to the complaint, were looking for something - cash bribes were sought by the party officials, and Mr. Halloran and Mr. Smith were seeking authorization to get Mr. Smith on the ballot in the mayor’s race.

Ah, it’s always nice when supply and demand curves meet and a price can quickly be established for a good or a service. But you don’t want the FBI acting as your broker.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • c u n d gulag on April 02, 2013 10:50 AM:

    Chicago politics ain't nothin' on to NY.

  • Ian A on April 02, 2013 10:53 AM:

    So, even when "both sides do it," it turns out that it is the Republicans in the wrong. Who would have ever guessed.

  • Josef K on April 02, 2013 11:27 AM:

    I live in NYC, work for City government, and am an unrepentent political junkie.

    Stuff like this is enough for me to reach for smelling salts. Not because its such a shock, mind, but because the people involved are such complete morons they get themselves caught. Fer gods sake, if you're going to be corrupt, be corrupt with style and a bit of discretion!

  • rrk1 on April 02, 2013 12:41 PM:

    Shocked, shocked, I am, at such skullduggery. Have they no shame? Of course not. The only real news here is that they got caught doing business as usual, at least in NYC. Running fusion candidates in the city is nothing new, and neither is the corruption of county leaders etc. Certainly there is nothing pure about the Democratic machine in any of the boroughs, and remember Boss Tweed, and Tammany Hall were the standards for political machines in other urban areas. NYC pols routinely bought the state legislature to get their bills passed, and Bloomberg is no different.

  • POed Lib on April 02, 2013 2:20 PM:

    The issue with this guy is that it's hard to say what he is. Is he a shit-covered piece of scum, or a scum-covered piece of shit? He sold the Senate to the Repukeliscum for 30 pieces of silver, and now he will spend that in prison. Karma is good, especially when it bites pieces of crap in the butt.