Chicago may finally be less politically corrupt than New York. A giant scandal involving the New York City mayoral race has been unearthed and now the F.B.I is involved. State Senator Malcolm A. Smith is a Democrat who was looking to run as a Republican on the NY State ballot. To get on the ballot as a Republican, he required the signatures of three of the cities five GOP chairmen. He was arrested Tuesday morning along with New York City Council Member Dan Halloran. Four other individuals were also arrested as part of the federal investigation.
The defendants were paid thousands of dollars in bribes in exchange for their help placing Smith onto the mayoral primary ballot as a Republican. Mr. Halloran is also accused of attempting to divert taxpayer money into a fake business that would have supported Smith's political consulting fee's. Halloran also arranged meetings with heads of the Republican party at various NY hotels and restaurants in an effort to work out the details of the bribe.
The cast of characters and just how far the fraud and bribery goes is head-spinning. One of the other men arrested Tuesday morning was Vince Tabone. Tabone is also charged with attempting to help fix the ballot in favor of Smith, but he also serves as the in-house attorney for another Mayoral candidate, John Castimatidis. Though no charges have been filed against Castimatidis, his close relationship with Tabone will be of obvious interest to investigators.
Each person involved in the massive bribery scheme wanted something. One wanted to get out of jail, one wanted money, some requested lucrative ownership interest in real estate deals. Funds and votes for various projects all over the state were promised, all in exchange for Mr. Smith finding his way onto the New York mayoral ballot. This level of corruption is unprecedented but not unexpected to those familiar with New York politics.
The New York Times provides the best graphic available for explaining who everyone is and their relationship with one another.
The election for mayor is November 5th. The last five mayoral elections have been won by Republicans despite high Democratic voter registration. This might account for why Smith was so interested in being on the Republican ticket. The Republicans running for mayor include billionaire Catsimatidis, non-profit founder George McDonald, former head of the Metro Transportation Authority Joseph Lhota and former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion Jr. The field of Democrats is lead by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.