News & Politics

Busted! Unbelievable Plot to Rig New York's Mayoral Contest Revealed

State Senator Malcolm Smith is charged with illegally trying to get on the New York City mayoral ballot.

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The Federal Bureau of Investigation has arrested half a dozen New York City and state officials over bribery charges.

Among the arrestees was State Senator Malcolm Smith, who is charged with illegally trying to get on the New York City mayoral ballot. Others arrested included City Councilman Dan Halloran, a Republican who allegedly received cash from Smith in exchange for setting up meetings with GOP officials with Smith. Smith, a Democrat who had recently joined forces with the GOP, wanted the meetings so he could bribe the officials to get on the ballot despite his party registration.

Other officials arrested and who took bribes include the chairmen of the Bronx and Queens Republican Party and the mayor of a Rockland County village. The charges span the gamut from bribery to extortion to wire and mail fraud, according to the Associated Press.

“Today’s charges demonstrate, once again, that a show-me-the-money culture seems to pervade every level of New York government,” said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, according to the New York Times. “The complaint describes an unappetizing smorgasbord of graft and greed involving six officials who together built a corridor of corruption stretching from Queens and the Bronx to Rockland County and all the way up to Albany itself...Senator Malcolm Smith tried to bribe his way to a shot at Gracie Mansion – Smith drew up the game plan and Councilman Halloran essentially quarterbacked that drive by finding party chairmen who were wide open to receiving bribes.”

Smith and the others were ultimately felled by an investigation that involved an undercover agent. The scheme for the mayoral race was hatched in a series of meetings that were recorded by a cooperating witness and the undercover agent, according to the New York Times. Also part of the scheme was a separate proposal involving Noramie F. Jasmin, a mayor in Rockland County. “Jasmin wanted an ownership interest in a company she believed was involved in a real estate deal, the complaint says, and Mr. Smith promised to steer $500,000 in state transportation funds to that project,” the Times reports.

This is not the first time allegations of wrongdoing have been leveled at Smith, as the New York Times details. A State Inspector General report, for example, named Smith and another Democrat as officials who “had manipulated the choice of who would build New York City’s first casino.”

Spokesmen for Smith have denied that the politician did anything wrong.  

Alex Kane is former World editor at AlterNet. His work has appeared in Mondoweiss, Salon, VICE, the Los Angeles Review of Books and more. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.