Other states have plenty of corruption, but it’s hard to beat New York when it comes to sheer volume. The criminal complaint Monday against Dean Skelos, the state Senate majority leader, and his son Adam came just three months after charges were brought against Sheldon Silver, then the Assembly Speaker. Having the top leaders in both chambers face criminal charges in the same session is an unparalleled achievement, but Skelos is now the fifth straight Senate majority leader in Albany to face them.
New York doesn’t so much have a culture of corruption as an entire festival. So far, Senate Republicans are standing by Skelos, but if they decide to make a change, they probably won’t turn to Thomas Libous, the chamber’s Number Two leader. He faces trial this summer on charges of lying to the FBI, while his son faces sentencing later this month on similar charges. All told, more than two dozen members of the New York state legislature have been indicted or resigned in disgrace over the past five years. “Albany for a long time has had a culture of self-interest, where private gains are woven in with public policy,” says Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause in New York.
Sheriff Andy Cuomo always claims he rode into town and cleaned things up, but the truth is, Albany remains a cesspool of corruption, with legislators being carted out pretty regularly on corruption charges and the governor himself paying lip service to ethics reform even as he sucks up record amounts of campaign cash.
That Cuomo so far refuses to return the million dollars in campaign donations he received from the real estate company at the center of both the Silver and Skelos arrests tells you all you have need to know about how serious Cuomo takes ethics reform.
That cash, btw, was part of a campaign kitty that helped Cuomo dispense with his Republican opponent, Rob Astorino pretty handily.
That's what happens when you have $40 million to spend on a campaign when your opponent only has $5 million.