05 December 2015

I'm Wondering if Andrew Cuomo is Next on Preet Bharara's Hit Parade

The New York Post Has Great Headlines
The former speaker of the New York State Assembly, Sheldon Silver, has been convicted on all corruption counts:
Sheldon Silver, who held a seemingly intractable grip on power for decades as one of the most feared politicians in New York State, was found guilty on Monday of federal corruption charges, ending a trial that was the capstone of the government’s efforts to expose the seamy culture of influence-peddling in Albany.

The verdict was a quick and unceremonious end for Mr. Silver, who, during his more than two decades as the State Assembly speaker, displayed a Teflon-like quality in deflecting questions about his outside income as well as calls for his ouster.

Mr. Silver, 71, a Manhattan Democrat, was convicted on all seven counts against him. The charges of honest services fraud, extortion and money laundering stemmed from schemes by which he obtained nearly $4 million in exchange for using his position to help benefit a cancer researcher and two real estate developers.

The son of a hardware store owner on the Lower East Side, Mr. Silver was known as a poker-faced negotiator who often got his way during budget negotiations, sometimes by simply holding out the longest. At the same time, he was also a fierce defender of New York City in the state Capitol.

As a result of the conviction, he must automatically forfeit the Assembly seat to which he was first elected nearly 40 years ago.

The verdict came on the jury’s third day of deliberations, after a five-week trial in Federal District Court in Manhattan. When word came that a verdict had been reached, Mr. Silver fidgeted in his chair, clenched his jaw, shook his head, sighed and glanced toward Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, who had taken a seat at the rear of the courtroom just before the verdict was read.


Mr. Silver is the most prominent in a parade of state lawmakers who have been convicted by Mr. Bharara’s office. Mr. Silver’s former counterpart, State Senator Dean G. Skelos, a Republican from Long Island who served as Senate majority leader, is also being tried on federal corruption charges; his case, which also includes Mr. Skelos’s son, Adam, entered its third week on Monday.
In response to this, Andrew Cuomo has dismissed any idea of a special session to address ethics in New York State government:
Governor Cuomo, spoke publicly for the first time since the former leader of the Assembly was convicted on seven counts of corruption, for abusing his powers to earn outside income. But Cuomo says he does not think it’s the right time now for a special session on ethics reform.

Reform groups have called for a special session to fix corruption at the Capitol, but Governor Cuomo says it’s too close to Hanukkah and Christmas now to hold one.

“I don’t think a special session is practical, we’re coming into the holiday season,” said Cuomo, who said reform will be “on the agenda” in Januarys, when the new session begins.

December sessions have been held several times in the past, as recently as 2011, when Cuomo and the legislature met to extend extra  income taxes on the wealthy.
This is not surprising, Silver, Skelos, and Cuomo were the infamous, "Three Men in a Room," who would sit down and hash out pretty much everything in state politics.

I don't think that Cuomo is particularly interested in ethics reform right now.

First, he has a new set of leaders in the State House and Senate to learn how to deal with.

Second, he still wants the money from the firm implicated in both the Silver and Skelos trials, Glenwood Management:
Gov. Andrew Cuomo isn’t ready to turn away donations from his most generous political donor simply because the firm plays a prominent role in the corruption trials of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Leader Dean Skelos.

During a Q&A at the Javits Center on Monday, Cuomo was asked specifically if he would continue taking campaign contributions from the real estate giant Glenwood Management after the trials’ revelation about its political giving and the personal income that ended up in the pockets of Skelos’ son, Adam, and Silver.

Cuomo gave a curious answer: “Let’s see what happens with the trial,” he said. “Let’s see what the outcome is. If someone is convicted of a crime, then obviously not.”

If Cuomo was referring to Glenwood, his campaign has nothing to worry about so far: While the verdicts on Silver and Skelos are up to their respective juries, Glenwood and its employees and lobbyists have not been charged with any crimes. However, several people in its employ or professional orbit — including its Senior Vice President Charles Dorego and its lobbyist Brian Meara — have received non-prosecution agreements in exchange for their cooperation with U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

And finally, we have reports that Bharara has Cuomo firmly in his sights, and a such, I am sure that he does not want to spend political capital on ethics reform right now:
United States Attorney Preet Bharara feels emboldened, sources say, following the conviction of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver — on all of seven corruption charges. Despite lacking a “smoking gun” to constitute an explicit quid pro quo, the jury handed Bharara a sweeping win. Such is the public’s appetite for corrupt politicians, observers say.

Three sources are confirming that Bharara intends to indict Governor Andrew Cuomo on January 2nd — along with a half dozen associates and former staffers — on public corruption, racketeering, conspiracy, and honest services fraud.
If this is true, I will be very amused, but my guess is that while some of Cuomo's aides may end up in the dock, that he has created enough space between himself and their acts to avoid legal liability.


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