Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Bruno Indictment

The other major development in New York politics yesterday was the indictment of former Republican state senate majority leader Joe Bruno for eight counts of public corruption. Specifically, Bruno is accused of defrauding New Yorkers as a consulting firm he was associated with received hundreds of thousands of dollars through contracts with state agencies. The indictment released by the Department of Justice is a thirty-five page PDF document and culmination of a two year FBI investigation. It's an interesting read.

Candidly, what Bruno is accused of is far worse than anything former governor Eliot Spitzer ever did. Ultimately, Spitzer's transgressions were private while Bruno exploited his powerful position to defraud New Yorkers and undermine state government's performance to enrich himself.

Susan Lerner of Common Cause NY writes at the Albany Project that Bruno's indictment reveals how pitifully corrupt New York State truly is:
"This is an indictment of not only Joe Bruno, but also of New York State's ethics laws. The man who held the highest position of power in the state legislature for years is formally accused of betraying the public interest on behalf of his self interest. Joe Bruno's indictment emphatically highlights the shameful state of New York's ethics laws, graphically demonstrating why the Legislature should not be expected to police the ethics of its own members. Even more disquieting is that the indictment is further proof that, for years, the only meaningful ethics and corruption oversight in New York State is being carried out by federal agents and United States Attorneys. This is a sad day for Joe Bruno, and sadder still for the New York Legislature."
For what it's worth, Bruno is known for being close to Kirsten Gillibrand's family and is friendly with Governor David Paterson as well. For all the negative publicity Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and Chicago politics has received in recent weeks, the Empire State remains the gold standard of pay to play corruption.

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