Another Shoe Drops
State Senator John Sampson, who up until recently led his chamber’s Democratic conference, is set to turn himself into federal authorities today after being ensared in a bribery scandal, according to The New York Times and New York Post.
It’s unclear to what extent Mr. Sampson may have been cooperating with federal prosecutors prior to this point. His involvement in an alleged scheme with then-State Senator Shirley Huntley, who already pleaded guilty to her own charges, was revealed last week when a sentencing letter made public Ms. Huntley’s own cooperation. The Times reports Mr. Sampson be charged with obstruction of justice.
The Press Box
“I’m not particularly fond of getting the shit kicked out of me by the media all the time,” John Liu told The Observer last week. “But that doesn’t alter the reality.”
The reality, the city’s comptroller said, is not necessarily found in the headlines every morning. For example, he disputes a New York Daily News report that “debunked” his claims of childhood sweatshop work. The New York Post said he “needs to just go away.” And Mr. Liu feels it’s “plainly obvious” that federal prosecutors are driving negative New York Times coverage as they investigate his mayoral campaign for fund-raising improprieties.
“You’re not supposed to fuck with the Fourth Estate,” Mr. Liu explained while sitting on a bench after a Harlem event, displaying two of his signature traits in one quick sentence—a penchant for direct talk and an increased interest in how the media portrays him.
Malcolm in the Middle
“Today is another sad and disappointing day for every New Yorker,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara announced at his press conference this morning where he unsealed corruption charges against six officials–including State Senator Malcolm Smith and Councilman Dan Halloran–accusing them of accepting bribes to boost Mr. Smith’s mayoral campaign.
“The charges we unsealed today demonstrate once again the ‘show me the money culture’ seems to pervade every level of New York government,” he continued. “The criminal 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.”
It’s not just Mayor Michael Bloomberg who’s offering effusive praise for President Barack Obama’s gun initiatives that the White House rolled out today. In a statement released this afternoon, Governor Andrew Cuomo noted he accomplished his own gun control legislation earlier this week and offered words of encouragement for Mr. Obama’s own efforts.
“We have done it here in New York, and Congress should stand with the President to make our nation a safer place for all,” Mr. Cuomo said.
Since last Friday’s massacre at a Newtown, Connecticut elementary school, President Barack Obama has used vague phrases like “meaningful action” to express his administration’s response to the slaying, while avoiding delving too far into specific plans. At a media briefing earlier today, however, White House press secretary Jay Carney listed some of the gun control measures Mr. Obama would actually support.
“He is actively supportive of, for example, Senator Feinstein’s stated intent to revive a piece of legislation that would reinstate the assault weapons ban,” Mr. Carney said. “He supports and would support legislation that addresses the problem of the so-called ‘gun show loophole,’ and there are other elements of gun legislation that he could support. People have talked about [restricting] high capacity ammunition clips, for example. That is certainly something he would be interested in looking at. My point is that it goes beyond that.”
big in d.c.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg just released his public schedule for tomorrow, and it’s a doozy. Throughout the day, the mayor is set to meet with over a half-dozen members of the country’s congressional leadership, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Also on the list is former presidential candidate John McCain, a couple moderate Republicans and a press conference with New York’s two senators on the city’s request for billions of dollars in federal aid in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
Although much of the attention has been focused on New York City, millions of Long Islanders were also caught in Hurricane Sandy’s path, with tens of thousands of them still without electricity or a regular supply of gasoline. In a statement sent out this afternoon by Nassau and Suffolk counties’ entire delegation in the State Senate, the local officials cried out for additional federal assistance. In doing so, they repeatedly raised the specter of Hurricane Katrina, the disaster that infamously marred former President George W. Bush’s administration.
“We are facing a massive, Katrina-style disaster here on Long Island that will only get worse unless all of the resources of the federal government are at our disposal. Incredibly, that hasn’t happened yet,” Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos declared in the release, the title of which warned of “More Death and Destruction.”
Hurricane Sandy, which wreaked havoc on good portions of New York State, clearly won’t be cheap to clean up, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo has avoided giving a specific number to the costs.
In a letter to President Barack Obama requesting maximum compensation from the federal government, however, Mr. Cuomo said the loss of economic activity alone in the state would yield “up to $6 billion in lost economic revenue in the greater metropolitan area and the State due to the severe disruption of business in the world’s leading financial hub and the largest port on the northeastern seaboard.”
Another day in New York yields another federal indictment. Today it was Hector Lopez, the former president of the Metal Polishers Union (Local 8A-28A) and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Local 8A-28A welfare fund. Mr. Lopez is accused of using his union’s welfare fund as his “personal piggy bank,” charges that might not be surprising considering past reports on his free-spending ways.
Earlier this afternoon, community leaders gathered together off Bowery Street in Chinatown to castigate the federal government for their continued investigation of Comptroller John Liu’s fundraising operation. Before the criminal charges were leveled against his campaign treasurer and a top donor, Mr. Liu was a leading candidate for mayor, causing the event’s speakers to surmise there were political motivations behind the allegations. Among those speaking out against the feds were former Rep. Major Owens, who blasted the 18 month-long investigation as “Nixonian,” and former District Leader Virginia Kee, who used even sharper rhetoric by invoking the Holocaust.