A leading Bronx Democrat told Human Events April 5 the scandal involving the early plotting by state Sen. Malcolm A. Smith (D.-Bronx) for his campaign for New York City mayor is a distraction by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, himself knee-deep in pay-off politics.
‚??This may be a case of entrapment by a political power base that does not want a popular African American leader to run for mayor, especially on the Republican Party line,‚?Ě said Efrain Gonzalez III, a community activist from the Bronx.
According to the complaint filed March 29 by the U.S. Attorney‚??s office, in addition to Smith, the following individuals were charged with violating federal corruption laws:¬† New York Cith Council member Daniel J. Halloran (R.-Queens), Queens County Republican Party Vice Chairman Vincent Tabone, Bronx County Republican Party Chairman Joseph J. Savino, Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin and Deputy Mayor Joseph Desmaret.
Gonzalez, the son of a former New York state senator currently serving a seven-year prison term on corruption charges, said because the Democrats control the Justice Department, the Democrats control the New York City U.S. Attorney’s office, thus U.S. Attorney will do whatever the Democrats need done to advance their goal of blocking a black man¬† from the Republican line on the ballot as he ran for¬†NYC mayor.
‚??That includes Mayor Michael Bloomberg,‚?Ě he said.
‚??The Democrats and Bloomberg cannot control Smith,‚?Ě he said.
‚??They want to push minorities out, and keep politicians who are in favor of super high taxation and restrictions on civil liberties – in,‚?Ě he said.
Gonzalez said the central piece of the puzzle is that Bloomberg intends to return to helm the city after this current stint, and until he retakes the wheel, the placeholder mayor will be beholden to him.
‚??Bloomberg would like nothing more than to keep his position as mayor of the financial district of the world,‚?Ě he said. ‚??He will stop at nothing to accomplish this goal.‚?Ě
Gonzalez said, ‚??Bloomberg is the briber-in-chief in New York City politics and Smith did not want to take Bloomberg‚??s bribes.‚?Ě
Associate Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Rockland County Times Dylan Skriloff said federal law enforcement created the so-called corrupt scenarios that the politicians are accused of taking part in.
Skriloff said the government’s key witness is a huge red flag.
‚??The corroborating witness, Moses ‚??Mark‚?Ě Stern, of Rockland County, illegally bundled hundreds of thousands of dollars to candidates,‚?Ě he said. Bundling is the practice of aggregating individual constributions for greater impact.
‚??Stern who was under investigation for forgery charges has close ties to the Jewish religious community as well as Albany, and the reality is he needed a scapegoat,‚?Ě he said.
Look no further than another deal Stern cut with prosecutors, he said.
New York State Atty. Gen. Eric T. Schneiderman pledged to give over $100,000 to charity from funds donated to Schneiderman campaign coffers in 2010 by Mark Stern-controlled donors Esther and Joseph Markowtiz of Monsey, he said.
‚??Schneiderman and Smith were like brothers,‚?Ě Skriloff said.
‚??The question is how far, how broad, and how high does this scandal with Stern go,‚?Ě he said. ‚??That includes Bloomberg.‚?Ě
Queens County politicos tell Human Events intramural rivalries make Republicans vulnerable. ‚??The complaint is disturbing but the public does not know the whole story,‚?Ě said Eric Mingott, a community activist and party regular from Jackson Heights.
‚??The Queens County Republican Party is in a dire, internal civil war,‚?Ě said the Marine veteran and lifelong Republican.
He said he has no trouble believing Bloomberg and the feds would set-up Halloran or Tabone.
It is not out of the realm of possibility, he said. ‚??There are powerful figures who would like to knock off the county chairman.‚?Ě
Despite GOP strongholds in Queens and Staten Island, the city is a one-party state, Mingott said.
‚??The Democrats operate the city council like a dictatorship,‚?Ě he said.
Even if a jury finds the¬† Republicans charged not guilty, GOP candidates would still be at a disadvantage in a city already overwhelmingly Democrat, Mingott said.
‚??The charges have an overall volatile effect for Republican candidates across the city,‚?Ě he said.
‚??Halloran has an impeccable record with his constituents,‚?Ě said Adam C. Lombardi, publisher and editor-in-chief of news site Queens-Politics.com.
Halloran lost his 2012 congressional bid to Rep. Grace Meng (D.-N.Y.), whose own father Jimmy Meng was sentenced March 13 to a one-month jail term for his bribery conviction.
Lombardi said in moments of emergency such as Hurricane Sandy or winter storms, Halloran was hands-on with helping the community.
‚??Halloran has a great personality. However, for some people he is public enemy Number One,‚?Ě the self-described conservative Democrat said.
Another complication is the role to New York City City Councilor¬† Eric Ulrich, a resident of Queens, whose relationship to the Queens GOP leadership has been troubled.
Lombardi said it was not lost on Queens Republicans that Ulrich is very close to Bloomberg.
‚??At Ulrich‚??s swearing-in Bloomberg was there supporting him,‚?Ě he said.
Lombardi said that Ulrich would like to see former GOP congressman Robert L. “Bob” Turner from Breezy Point be the Republican party chairman. Turner, a millionaire businessman, won the 2011 special election to succed Anthony Weiner.
‚??Ulrich‚??s efforts to do so were squashed in the courtroom,‚?Ě he said.
Daniel Peterson, a candidate for NYC Council 2013 from the Queens neighborhood of Astoria, said he is not even sure asking for and accepting money is a crime.
‚??Party leaders often ask candidates to contribute money for party development and growth when candidates seek office,‚?Ě said the former NYC Young Republican Club president. ‚??As long as the money is registered properly, gifts are not a bribe.‚?Ě
It is normal and accepted for candidates and party leaders to talk money, he said.
‚??It was publicized in the local media that a sit down meeting between three or four of the county chairmen occurred to discuss possible authorization of ‘Smith for Mayor’ on the Republican Party line,” he said.
Since fusion is legal in New York City, if a Democrat wants to run on a Republican Party line, he must receive authorization, Peterson said. This authorization is state law spelled out in New York’s 1947 Wilson Pakula Act. ‚??There is nothing unusual or illegal about it.‚?Ě
Robert Hornak, the executive director of the Queens County Republican Party, said ‚??Raising money for party building is a lot more work and responsibility than people think.‚?Ě
‚??There is a fine line when raising money,” he said.
“There should never be a quid pro quo for someone’s contribution, but the Party has to ask every potential contributor to keep the organization’s doors open and operations running so that we can support the candidates and help them in their elections,” he said.
He said is not defending or excusing what may have been an illegal exchange.
However, Hornak said people should withhold judgment until they hear all sides, not just what officials feed to the newspapers.
“Everyone deserves the presumption of innocence, at least within the legal system. The court of public opinion of course can render a much quicker verdict,” he said.