Disgraced former Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s surprise comeback campaign for comptroller has generated a huge amount of attention from the media–as well as several characters with controversial histories, including former City Council candidates accused of sexual harassment and race-baiting.
Of course, candidates can’t be held responsible for all of their supporters’ actions. But because Mr. Spitzer’s candidacy comes with its own scandal baggage, it is interesting to see who some of his most passionate supporters are.
End of the Linen
Assemblyman William Boyland, Jr. just can’t catch a break.
Days after his former chief-of-staff pleaded guilty and testified against him in his bribery trial, federal prosecutors announced new wire fraud charges against Mr. Boyland, accusing him of filing false per diem requests for Albany expenses when the assemblyman was actually meeting with undercover F.B.I. agents in one of the alleged bribery schemes.
The Huntley Becomes the Hunted
Earlier this afternoon, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced both the arrest and conviction of Mohanbhai “Mohan” Ramchandani, who pleaded guilty to felony tax-evasion charges. In the press release detailing the case, Mr. Ramchandani was labeled a “prominent tailor,” and indeed he has styled many members of the city’s political class including former mayors Rudy Giuliani (conservative, two-button suit in blue and gray) and Ed Koch (classic, no darts, straight pants and suspender buttons).
Good Will Huntley
As expected, former Senator Shirley Huntley pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges today, and now faces a sentence of up to five years of imprisonment and a fine of $250,000.
The charges stem from a Queens non-profit that received government funds–earmarked by Ms. Huntley–to educate parents about the city’s public school system. However, according to federal prosecutors, approximately $87,700 of the cash instead went for her personal use.
A seemingly permanent end to campaign season and some indictments did not keep Lynn Smith, niece of former State Senator Shirley Huntley, from collecting a paycheck.
Right before her Sept. 13th primary loss, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman charged Ms. Huntley with conspiring to cover up Ms. Smith’s alleged theft of almost $30,000 in taxpayer money through a phony nonprofit. Yet, more than a month after Ms. Huntley’s defeat, campaign records show that Ms. Smith was still paid more than a $1,500.
Congressman Jerry Nadler and others are joining District Leader Lincoln Restler in demanding Assemblyman Vito Lopez end his tenure as the Chair of the Kings County Democratic Party following the explosive sexual harassment allegations that included forcing himself on at least one staff member as she struggled to push him off.
“I applaud the work of both the bi-partisan Assembly Ethics Committee and Speaker Silver for the swift and judicious action in removing Assemblyman Vito Lopez from the Chairmanship of the Assembly Housing Committee and in taking other punitive steps as a result of the findings that Assemblyman Lopez was guilty of multiple acts of sexual harassment and abuse,” Mr. Nadler said in a statement this afternoon. “In light of the reprehensible conduct revealed by the Ethics Committee, I call upon Assembly Lopez to do the only honorable thing by immediately resigning his positions as a Member of the Assembly and as the County Chair of the Brooklyn Democratic Party.”
Yesterday evening, Roll Call broke the news that former Congressman Anthony Weiner said he reported Congressman Michael Grimm to the FBI in 2010 for potentially extorting money from Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto’s congregation, something the New York Times‘ sources have alleged as well. “I can confirm the Rabbi did bring allegations to me and I can confirm that I turned them over to the FBI immediately,” Mr. Weiner told the publication.
Former Staten Island Borough President Guy Molinari, a GOP power broker and political mentor to Mr. Grimm, decided to not take this latest set of charges sitting down and sent out a press release this afternoon attacking Mr. Weiner’s claims in rather harsh terms.
“All of these baseless and fanciful allegations are supported of course by anonymous sources and a known liar and pervert,” he argued in the statement. Mr. Weiner, of course, infamously resigned after a sexting scandal.
Shock & Awe
On NY1′s Inside City Hall last night, mayoral contender Bill Thompson was asked whether the man who replaced him in the comptroller’s office, John Liu, can continue to hold onto his job in the face of criminal fundraising charges against his mayoral campaign.
“I think that any elected official, when there are any questions of any types of improprieties that are raised, it creates a bit of a distraction,” he replied. “I still think he can continue to do his job.”
Mr. Thompson emphasized that this distraction is not necessarily unique to Mr. Liu.
brb fbi is here
Comptroller and potential mayoral candidate John Liu released a statement this afternoon expressing his surprise at the arrest of his campaign treasurer, Jia “Jenny” Hou.
“I am stunned by this news about Jenny Hou. These accusations against her are uncharacteristic and unexpected. Jenny is a smart, hardworking person who I hope will be treated fairly,” Mr. Liu said.
Earlier today, New York City Comptroller John Liu’s campaign treasurer, Jenny Hou, was arrested by federal authorities and charged, among other things, with helping orchestrate a fundraising scheme to boost Mr. Liu’s mayoral campaign.
While the complaint against Ms. Hou involve interviews and emails, they also, somewhat amusingly, frequently quote her instant message chats. Thus phrases like “YUP!!!” and “THANK YOU!!!!! I’ll make you out a ck [check] today” appear throughout the otherwise bland document.