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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Clear View of New York's Corruption

A window on the swamp
The New York Post - EDITORIAL - November 21, 2009

Has there ever been a more revealing clinic on public corruption than the ongoing trial of former Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno? None comes to mind. Day by day, it becomes clearer than ever that, in Albany, mutual back-scratching is the coin of the realm: You fill my pocket, I'll fill yours. Witness after witness has testified as to how Bruno used the perks of his public position -- paid with taxpayer dollars -- to conduct his personal business. Other witnesses have told how Bruno guided them through Albany's power structure, but only after they promised the powerful senator lush consultancies -- and, sometimes, a cut of the profits. To be sure, testimony so far has been presented solely by the prosecutors; Bruno's turn is coming up. And the veteran legislator, who retired last year, insists that such overlapping of private and official interests is not only fully legal, but par for the course in what essentially is a part-time legislative body -- "a citizen legislature," as he puts it. And it's almost -- repeat, almost -- possible to feel a twinge of sympathy for him after last Friday's testimony. Jared Abbruzzese, a technology investor, told the court he paid Bruno $20,000 a month for two years after the senator spoke to him about setting up a consulting service. He said Bruno told him that "Sheldon Silver was being paid 40, 50, 60 thousand a month from the trial lawyers association" -- an apparent reference to the Assembly speaker's "of counsel" arrangement with the tort-law powerhouse Weitz & Luxenberg. Silver refuses to discuss his outside income but historically has maintained that the arrangement is bulletproof legally -- and he's probably right: Lawmaking in Albany is formally a part-time job. Whether or not Bruno broke any laws will be for the jury to decide. Still, some of the testimony thus far has been positively jaw-dropping. Back in 1995, for example, Bruno wrote then-Gov. George Pataki, asking him to meet with an IBM executive. What Pataki didn't know, according to testimony, was that Bruno was a paid consultant to an IBM subcontractor founded by a friend. In 2004, witnesses testified, Bruno and his chief counsel assembled top state officials in his office for a meeting with the CEO of a software firm seeking state business. But he never told them he'd been paid for setting up the sitdown -- and that he would get a 10 percent commission on any government contracts. Albany has been an ethical swamp for decades. No secret there. But rarely do details of this sort emerge. How ironic, if Joe Bruno's greatest contribution to good government in New York turns out to be the light cast by his corruption trial.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes, on a clear day the greed can be seen for many miles!

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See Video of Senator John L. Sampson's 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption

The first hearing, held in Albany on June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:

               Video of 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption
               The June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:
               CLICK HERE TO SEE Part 1
               CLICK HERE TO SEE Part 2
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