Reuters

The state senator was accused of trying to buy the support he needed to get on the Republican's mayoral ticket.

In order to get on the New York City mayoral ballot as a Republican, doomed Democratic State Senator Malcolm Smith (above) would have needed approval from three of the city's five GOP county chairs. He did not have that, and this morning he was arrested along with City Councilman Dan Halloran and other suspects for allegedly bribing to pay off those chairs and trying to rig New York City's mayoral election. "FBI agents arrested them both at their Queens homes shortly after 6 a.m.," report the New York Post's team of Josh Margolin, Lorena Mongelli, and Erin Calabrese, who explain: 

To get on the GOP ballot, Smith allegedly enlisted Halloran, a Republican, to set up meetings with party leaders and negotiate thousands of dollars in bribes. The money was masked as payments for legal and accounting services, sources said.

The criminal complaint was set to be unsealed later Tuesday morning, according to the New York Times, with a press conference set for later in the day, according to the New York Daily News. But this complex (and alleged) plot goes back to the apparent reality that Smith, a former State Senate majority leader, did not exactly do himself any favors within the state Democratic party. In December, Smith, along with five others, joined the Independent Democratic Conference in the State Senate and aligned himself with Republicans, thereby nullifying the majority the Democrats had won in elections—Dems had won 33 seats compared to the GOP's 30—and also nullifying any control Democrats thought they had in the State Senate. That move essentially sealed his fate in the Democratic party, and apparently in a Democratic mayoral primary that in its early stages is looking like a potentially dominant one for Christine Quinn.

But that move was seen as part of Smith's over-arching plan to run on the GOP ticket while still being a Democrat. As The Post mentions, in order to get on the Republican ballot you have to convince three of the city's five GOP county chairs to let you on—it's called a Wilson Pakula authorization.

When YNN's Capital Tonight checked in on the possibility of that happening back in August, it looked grim for Smith. "I spoke to everybody today, and three of them were like: ‘No’ ... One would not rule out the possibility." Manhattan GOP Chairman Dan Isaacs told Capital Tonight on August 1. Isaacs added:

I am not open to him, quite frankly. His problem is the baggage he brings along. There have been a lot of disconcerting stories about what has gone on with him with the nonprofits, the racino, his stewardship of the Democratic majority, his distasteful use of campaign funds. At the end of the day, there are a lot of issues with Malcolm Smith.

The "racino" Isaacs is referring are a separate set of allegations that Smith had used political favoritism in the Aqueduct Entertainment Group’s bid to build the Aqueduct Racino and minimized his involvement in two non-profits that had been the subjects of official investigations," reports the Queens Times Ledger.

So you could see why a bribery plot wouldn't necessarily be out of the question for a hungry politician, especially since Republican party leaders and its GOP chair were already sour on Smith. And according to The Post, it seems like Smith wasn't even the initial target:

He [Halloran] is separately charged with taking bribes from a consultant in return for up to $80,000 in City Council discretionary funding.

The feds were already investigating Halloran when they got wind of the alleged ballot-manipulating plan in November, the sources said. Smith met with his alleged co-conspirators as recently as February.

WABC-TV adds that authorities expect to make at least five arrests in the corruption probe, including Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin and Deputy Mayor Joseph Desmaret. Though, according to both the Post and WABC, it's unclear if Jasmin and Desmaret are connected to Smith. The Daily News more directly links two other men:

Agents were also rounding up four suspects, including Bronx Republican Chairman Jay Savino and Queens GOP vice chairman Vincent Tabone who were to receive bribes in exchange for backing Smith when he switched sides last year in a never-realized run for City Hall.

This post originally appeared on The Atlantic Wire.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. a photo of a woman on a SkyTrain car its way to the airport in Vancouver, British Columbia.
    Transportation

    In the City That Ride-Hailing Forgot, Change Is Coming

    Fears of congestion and a powerful taxi lobby have long kept ride-hailing apps out of transit-friendly Vancouver, British Columbia. That’s about to change.  

  2. A photo of a police officer in El Paso, Texas.
    Equity

    What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings

    Two new studies have revived the long-running debate over how police respond to white criminal suspects versus African Americans.

  3. a map comparing the sizes of several cities
    Maps

    The Commuting Principle That Shaped Urban History

    From ancient Rome to modern Atlanta, the shape of cities has been defined by the technologies that allow commuters to get to work in about 30 minutes.

  4. A photo of L.A.'s vacant Hawthorne Federal Building.
    Equity

    The Trump Administration Wants to Relocate Skid Row to This Federal Building

    Los Angeles homeless providers were rebuffed when they asked to use Cesár Pelli’s Hawthorne Building, which the White House is eyeing to relocate Skid Row residents.

  5. Environment

    How City Failures Affect Trust in Climate Planning

    Cities may struggle to gain support for climate action plans because they haven’t dealt with infrastructure issues that regularly afflict residents.

×