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Six politicians are slated to be arraigned Tuesday in a case that alleges, among other charges, a scheme to buy one lawmaker a spot on New York City’s mayoral ballot.
Defense lawyers announced Monday that all six defendants, including embattled state Sen. Malcolm Smith, are expected to plead not guilty at Tuesday’s arraignment.
Smith is accused of conspiring with New York City Councilman Daniel Halloran, a Republican, to bribe county Republican leaders for a place on the GOP mayoral ticket. The indictment alleges that two top Republican operatives, Joseph Savino and Vincent Tabone, accepted tens of thousands of dollars in exchange for supporting Smith's political bid, NBCNewYork.com reported.
Smith never formally launched a campaign to replace outgoing New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. According to NBCNewYork.com, Smith, a Democrat, would have required authorization from three of the city’s five GOP county chairmen to run as a Republican candidate.
Halloran stands accused of agreeing to siphon off City Council funds to a private company in exchange for additional bribes.
“That’s politics, it’s all about how much,” Halloran is quoted as saying in the indictment, according to The Associated Press. “Not about whether or will, it’s about how much, and that’s our politicians in New York, they’re all like that.”
Reuters / Mike Segar
New York State Senator Malcolm Smith makes his way through a crush of media to a waiting car after appearing in United States Court in White Plains, New York on April 2.
Smith, Halloran, Savino and Tabone were arrested by the FBI on April 2, following an extensive federal probe.
The corruption investigation also concerns Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin and Deputy Mayor Joseph Desmaret, who are accused of accepting funds and property to sign off on a prospective real estate project. That charge is unrelated to Smith’s and Halloran’s alleged bribery plot.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who announced the complaint against the officials three weeks ago, announced Monday that he has met with the FBI to “discuss expanding our corruption efforts."
“It seems that a culture of corruption has developed and grown, just like barnacles on a boat bottom,” Bharara said. “And just as with barnacles on a boat bottom, when a growth is permitted to spread and grow unchecked, it unsurprisingly takes an unrelenting, collective effort to clean up.”
A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday found that 48 percent of New Yorkers view corruption as a “very serious” issue – the highest share since the poll began posing the question in 2003, according to The Associated Press.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.