New York Post columnist Maureen Callahan today asks what New York state political scandals have in common:
It’s the one question that’s not really been addressed during this dubious week for New York legislators: How is it that so many — from Pedro Espada to Larry Seabrook to Malcolm Smith to Hiram Monserrate — have been able to so blatantly funnel taxpayer money to their own interests? The answer is both shocking and not: Because they can.
“New York has its own brand of mischief that’s more lethal than other states,” says Ken Boehm of the National Legal and Policy Center. “When millions of dollars are being sent to non-existent organizations, clearly there’s a problem.”
Unlike every other state, New York allows legislators to set up their own non-profits and then steer taxpayer money to those same organizations. So, as will happen, many state and city lawmakers have done just that. “Like DC,” Boehm says, “New York allows earmarks cloaked in secrecy.”