Monday, June 14, 2010

Scandal in Bloomberg Land

For the last eight-plus years that Mayor Mike Bloomberg has ruled this town, his administration has been remarkably free of scandal. Since he's so rich and doesn't has to fundraise, he's been able to avoid the natural corruption that is bred from politicians who have to hit up businessmen and unions and other assorted scoundrels for campaign cash.

However, that doesn't mean all the money he's thrown into his three elections has been 100% clean.

Today a Republican operative who worked on his last campaign was indicted for laundering a million dollars from the campaign through the Independence party and into a shell "consulting" company that went towards -- get this -- buying this guy a house. It's grand larceny pure and simple and, yes, Mayor Mike is clearly the victim. It's totally inexcusable even for a billionaire to be ripped off.

But this case sheds some interesting light on the corrosive role of money in our politics in general and the creepy third parties that co-exist in this state in particular. First, this case proves the lie that somehow if a political candidate is rich and self-funds his or her campaigns that somehow they and their people are incorruptible. Second, this guy funneled the money through the Independence party, a bizarre, cult-like organization that exists only to serve as a second ballot line or (mostly) Republicans candidates to win elections.

This is something that needs to be changed. For some reason New York State allows candidates to run on multiple party lines -- usually with Democratic candidates running on the Working Families Party line as well and Republican candidates running on the Conservative and/or Independence lines. Sometimes candidates are able to run on both the Republican and Democratic lines!

This is wrong. And deeply cynical.

The Independence Party is used by Republican candidates for Governor and Mayor who, in cities like NYC with huge Democratic majorities, couldn't win elections otherwise without people pulling the lever for them on this other line. It's cynical, it's absurd, and it needs to stop.

And, as we can see, it is a source ripe for corruption.

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