New York is not the most corrupt state in the state – and will not be as long as Illinois and Louisiana remain united – but it is close. The latest in a slew of fallen crooks’ political figures is Deputy Governor Brian Benjamin, who resigned on Tuesday and surrendered to authorities to deal with charges related to federal bribery and campaign funding.
Benjamin was appointed by Gov. Kathy Hochul, who promised to end an era of irregularities in Albany when she took office after Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigned under a cloud. An era of irregularities is an understatement. The list of ethically challenged New York politicians is long and indistinguishable.
Cuomo resigned last year after many women accused him of harassment; He was also charged with falsifying death data in a nursing home. His former top adviser and confidant Joseph Percoco went to jail in 2018 for soliciting and accepting more than $ 300,000 in bribes. (Percoco was also close to Governor Mario Cuomo, when Andrew described him as “my father’s third son, whom I sometimes think he loves the most”). Around the same time, another former official in the state and the governor’s friend, Alan Caliros. , Was convicted of federal fraud and conspiracy to falsify proposals for state-funded high-tech construction projects in Buffalo and Syracuse and sent to jail.
Cuomo was the last of the so-called “three men in a room” who ran the state government. He was preceded out the door by two other power brokers: Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who recently died in prison after being convicted of corruption, and Majority Leader Senate Dean Scalos, who resigned in 2015 after his arrest (he was later convicted) of federal corruption charges.
It must not be forgotten that Kaumo was once the country’s chief law enforcement officer. He was preceded in office by Attorney General Elliott Spitzer, who would later resign as governor amid a prostitution scandal. And Cuomo was inherited by Eric Schneiderman, who resigned following multiple allegations of sexual and physical abuse; His law license was later revoked.
Former U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner – aka Carlos Danger – resigned in 2011 after sending his lewd photos to several women. Two years later, he canceled the comeback run for mayor of New York after more obscene texts surfaced. In 2017, he entered Begin Prison. Sex of a minor.But in Weiner’s case it could be argued that his problem was more mental illness than ethics.
But do not forget Alan Hevesi, the former state comptroller – New York’s chief financial watchdog – who resigned after pleading guilty to a crime of government fraud. He arrived at the jail after pleading guilty to separate charges of receiving grants for leading New York State Pension Fund investments to associates as an auditor.
Something really rotten in New York State. Advanced politicians waste resources with unproductive government spending that replaces more effective market-based solutions. But at least they are not doing it for their own good, at least not directly. The scoundrels described above could not even pretend to be acting in the public interest.
Unfortunately, help is not on the way. The new state budget replaces the Joint Public Ethics Committee with a partisan and apparently toothless committee on ethics and lobbying in government.
The new committee will have nine members appointed by the Democrats (three by the governor, two each by the chairman of the assembly and the majority leader in the Senate and one each by the attorney general and the comptroller) and only two by the Republicans (one each by the assembly and Senate minority leaders ). Does anyone believe that a committee that will appoint the political elites of the country will be an effective and independent watchdog?
Corruption should be an important issue in the upcoming elections. Politicians behave inappropriately and those who help them do not need approval. Unless voters insist on leaders who are willing to aggressively address the issue of ethics in government, New York will maintain its dubious distinction as a national leader in the production of vile politicians.
Joel Zinberg, MD, is a senior fellow at the Competitive Institute for Organizations and Director of Public Health and Welfare at the Paragon Health Institute.