Thank you, Governor Cuomo, for giving a name to the epidemic of corruption that’s coming to light in New York, much of it exposed by the National Legal and Policy Center. We don’t even have an office or staff in the state. The graft is so rampant that we spotted it from hundreds of miles away by reviewing public documents and with, of course, help from some of the few honest people on the ground.
Cuomo yesterday told Susan Arbetter, a reporter with public broadcasting station WCNY:
What I’m trying mightly to do is not allow the scandal mania – because you know how the press is with scandals and that becomes all consuming – I don’t want that to eclipse the session and I don’t want it to derail the session because we have a lot of good work to do for New Yorkers who just want their government to function and we have to be able to do both at the same time.
By worrying that all the headlines will distract from his legislative agenda, Cuomo misses the point. New York City and state politics is corrupt from top to bottom. It even spans both parties, reaching theater of the absurd with Malcolm Smith, a Democratic state senator, trying to bribe his way to the Republican ballot line for New York City Mayor. Democratic self-government in New York state lacks legitimacy until something is done to stop the endemic corruption.
Cuomo has recently proposed several modest reforms to make it easier to prosecute corrupt politicians, after not even mentioning corruption in his State of the State address in January. While we welcome these proposals, they should not be used by Cuomo to construct a narrative that it is himself against the crooks, a portrayal that is being uncritically accepted by much of the New York media.
Cuomo is not apart from a rotten political system. He sits atop it. He has hobnobbed for years, and accepted supported from, many of the same characters who are now being led away in handcuffs.
Nor is Cuomo exactly Mr. Clean. The tentacles of scandal are now so all-encompassing that it may be only a matter of time before we see the public reports of their reach into his own administration.
Photo: State Senator John Sampson and Governor Andrew Cuomo in happier times.