Preet Bharara’s Malocchio

Preet Bharara_MalocchiaPreet’s Malocchio to the Three Men In A Room

Preet Bharara’s war against Albany corruption continues with the arrest of Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his son, Adam. The oft-maligned “three men in a room” is beginning to look like the children’s game of musical chairs. When the music stops, the last man standing goes to jail.

The room in question has only a single chair left.

Anyone remember Governor Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State PowerPoint slide featuring the Three Amigos? Two of his amigos have traded in their sombreros for handcuffs.




Surely, that slide has been deleted along with the rest of the Cuomo administration’s compromising “nonessential” emails.

Governor Cuomo must wonder about campaign donors whose names keep popping up in federal complaints against his former roommates and others. Centenarian real estate mogul Leonard Litwin, his Glenwood Management firm, his lobbyists and numerous LLCs are prominently featured in the complaints against former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and, now, Majority Leader Skelos. Litwin, Glenwood Management, his LLCs and his lobbyists have long ranked among the state’s largest political donors— contributing to Cuomo and his shadowy Committee To Save New York.

In recent weeks, there has been a spate of op-eds and news stories assailing US Attorney Preet Bharara’s numerous public statements castigating Albany corruption and giving the malocchio to the three men in a room. Lately, Gotham’s uncaped crusader has been accused of criminalizing “ordinary politics.” Crazily, that term “ordinary politics” gives the wink to political extortion, bribery, trading favors and vote buying.

I guess that’s the equivalent of the once familiar Mafia (a group whose existence the late Mario Cuomo naively denied) tax on the cost of carting our waste, unloading our ships, and building our skyscrapers. Westchester county executive Rob Astorino referred to the ‘corruption tax’ in his call for Skelos to step down.

New Yorkers have grown weary of the cost of ordinary politics as our rents skyrocket, our subways grow more crowded, and our children go undereducated.

Last year, voters told Siena pollsters that corruption is a serious problem in New York. Last month, they told those same pollsters that corruption remains a serious problem in Albany but new ethics laws will have no real effect on reducing corruption in state government.  More than two-thirds of Democrats, Republicans and independents alike agree on this.

In more bad news for indicted lawmakers, New Yorkers overwhelmingly oppose using campaign funds to pay legal fees when legislators are accused of wrongdoing. And in a separate TimeWarner/Siena poll upstate voters strongly supported pension forfeiture after felony conviction.

If prosecuting ordinary politics is what it takes to “dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics,” then US Attorney Preet Bharara must continue using his caustic solution to cleanse the Albany statehouse.

While the music plays and Preet Bharara’s caustic fumes fill the room, the three men warily circling that single chair should finally decide to set aside their childish ways.


Michael Benjamin is a former Bronx Assemblyman. Follow him on Twitter: @SquarePegDem




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