It is generally accepted as a given that city and state political corruption runs deep in New York. Few people know the extent to which the system is dirty. This morning I woke up to find so much in Ken Lovett's front page Daily News article that will leave most readers at the very least wondering how deep the corruption goes and whether or not our union is involved.
First there is the title of the piece: De Blasio team skirted campaign donation limits; investigators found 'willful and flagrant' violations 'warranting prosecution'
Now the basics:
ALBANY-- The head investigator for the state Board of Elections probed the 2014 fundraising efforts by Mayor de Blasio and his team on behalf of the Senate Democrats and found enough "willful and flagrant" violations to warrant a criminal referral to the Manhattan DA's office.
The Daily News obtained a bombshell memo state Board of Elections Chief Enforcement Officer Risa Sugerman sent to the board's four commissioners on Jan. 4 recommending the referral.
"I have determined that reasonable cause exists to believe a violation warranting criminal prosecution has taken place," Sugarman wrote. "The violations discovered by this investigation can only be described as willful and flagrant."
The commissioners, during a closed-door vote, made the referral on Jan. 11, sources said, which is now part of a broader probe by the DA and Manhattan U.S. Attorney's office.
Sugerman's memo paints a picture of a coordinated effort by the mayor and his allies - dubbed interchangeably as "Team de blasio" and "Team Coordinated" - to deliberately circumvent legal campaign donation limits in three upstate races in what turned out to be an unsuccessful effort to help Democrats win control of the state Senate in 2014.
The memo did not spell out exactly who could be charged. Deliberately evading campaign donation limits would constitute a felony.
I know the next thought that will come to mind is whether the UFT, a close ally of de Blasio, is on this so called team.
Way down at the bottom of the lengthy piece is this:
Others said to be on the team included Jason Goldman, the United Federation of Teachers assistant director legislation and political action...
UFT spokeswoman Alison Gendar said the union "will always fully cooperate with any state or federal inquiry if and when one is made."
This does not look very promising for the mayor or for the UFT.
Reality Based Educator checked in this morning with a reaction before I posted. Here it is in its entirety.
This was a Cuomo appointee behind the January 4th memo that says felonies were committed by the De Blasio team in their fundraising, so of course it's a political attack from Cuomo, but the fact is, with Bharara and Vance now opening multiple investigations into de Blasio's fundraising that reach as high as two of his top people - Emma Wolfe and Ross Offinger - de Blasio's in serious trouble.
Even if he manages to avoid prosecution, the political fallout from this will be stark. The front cover of the Daily News today is the kind of thing he's looking at for the foreseeable future. His poll numbers have already dropped 10 points as a result of the initial corruption allegations - I would expect his numbers to plummet after this and you will begin to see challengers making moves to take him on both within the Democratic Party and from the Republican side.
De Blasio sucks and not much has changed for us in the system post-Bloomberg, but some of the Republicans angling to run, and Jeffries and Diaz on the Dem side, will destroy the public school system. That is the plan from their end - to charterize most of the system like D.C. De Blasio, at least, didn't have that on his agenda.
I suspect, barring some very astute maneuvering and luck from de Blasio, that he's going to struggle to survive this politically.
That assumes he doesn't get arrested a la Skelos and Silver, of course, which is starting to look like a possibility.