A spokesman for state Sen. Malcolm Smith says the former majority leader will be "vindicated" of charges that he conspired to buy a spot on the Republican Party ballot for mayor in 2013.
Smith was arrested this morning by the FBI on charges that were brought in federal court. (Read the complaint below.)
Smith spokesman Todd Shapiro issued this statement: "The Senator has record of 13 years of dedication, hard work and integrity to the people he serves in Queens.He has provided to the heath, safety and well-being of the almost 20 million residents in New York. He will be vindicated when the all the facts in the case are revealed."
Smith led the Senate Democrats when they initially took control of the Senate in 2008. Smith had to cut deals with a number of senators to get that position. Last year, Smith joined the Independent Senate Democratic Conference, which lacked any minority members at the time. Smith was named chairman of the IDC in February of this year.
The IDC touted its seperation from the ethically challenged Demcoratic conference and the fact that they were ready to succeed where the Democrats had failed. But Smith and IDC Leader Sen. Jeff Klein were both part of the leadership structure of the Senate Democrats when they controlled the Senate. Smith's arrest could alter control of the Senate.
The IDC has yet to address Smith's arrest. Senate Democrats who would like to regain control of the Senate have been mum on the arrest as well.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bahara issued this statement:
Today’s charges demonstrate, once again, that a show-me-the-money culture seems to pervade every level of New York government. The complaint describes an unappetizing smorgasbord of graft and greed involving six officials who together built a corridor of corruption stretching from Queens and the Bronx to Rockland County and all the way up to Albany itself. As alleged, Senator Malcolm Smith tried to bribe his way to a shot at Gracie Mansion – Smith drew up the game plan and Councilman Halloran essentially quarterbacked that drive by finding party chairmen who were wide open to receiving bribes. After the string of public corruption scandals that we have brought to light, many may rightly resign themselves to the sad truth that perhaps the most powerful special interest in politics is self-interest. We will continue pursuing and punishing every corrupt official we find, but the public corruption crisis in New York is more than a prosecutor’s problem.
USA v. Smith, Halloran, et. al. by Gotham Gazette