feb 08

Cracking Down on State Corruption

If there has ever been any doubt that the corruption in New York runs deeper than expected, this doubt will have been dispelled by recent events. The slew of dismissals, arrests and convictions of late are unsettling at best, and quite disturbing at worst. According to the executive director of Citizens Union, Dick Dadey, the rate of arrests has been increasing, and judging by that, we can only expect more arrests to be made. Just within the last few years, since 2008, more than two dozen elected state officials have been either arrested or convicted; a number that Manhattan based US Attorney Preet Bharara has called just “a certain percentage” of the New York politicians who are suspected of corruption. That being said, it’s impossible to tell how deep the State’s political corruption runs without further investigation. Since the Moreland Commission, both created and shut down by Governor Cuomo, was dissolved in 2014, Bharara has really taken the initiative when it comes to moving forward with the investigations of a number of corruption bases. Bharara’s efficacy is evidenced by his recently havingwon the conviction of former state Senator Malcolm Smith; formerly a Senate president who received a sentence within the last few months of seven years imprisonment. Add this to the indictment of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who resigned his leadership post in the months following his indictment, and you can see real successes being made. There is further evidence of the corruption of New York State political officials in the actions of ex-Brooklyn Assemblyman William Boyland Jr. who drove to the courthouse for his trial while his license was suspended, and Sampson parking in a “no-parking” area, claiming he was on “official” state business while attending his trial. Alongside the pursuance of justice that Bharara is on, the Manhattan and Brooklyn FBI have made attempts to investigate politicians suspected of corruption using techniques which, perhaps surprisingly, have been effectively used against organized crime groups. Techniques such as flipping co-conspirators, making use of undercover agents and wires, and video surveillance have all proved to be beneficial in the crackdown on corruption. However, it’s important to remember that not all political officials are corrupt and acting only in their best interests. Current US Attorney General Loretta Lynch testified before the Moreland Commission before its dissolution that she believed “Those officials who are truly trying to do good are cast in the same light as those who are engaging in wrongdoing, rendering them less effective,” which is a good representation of the views of society as a whole.