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Queens Chronicle

Great: The feds are cleaning house

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Posted: Thursday, May 9, 2013 10:30 am

Preet can’t be beat, unless you think Loretta is better. The U.S. attorneys for the southern and eastern districts of New York, respectively, Preet Bharara and Loretta Lynch, are in the midst of stellar work that should do more to clean up the political corruption that seems endemic to Albany than most so-called reforms have ever managed.

They’re going after corruption in case after case and knocking down one elected domino after another. Any city or state lawmaker who’s on the take and hasn’t been charged yet must be very, very nervous.

First it was state Sen. Shirley Huntley of Jamaica, who stole tens of thousands of dollars from one sham nonprofit group and covered up the theft of tens of thousands more from another. She may be sentenced as early as today, May 9. Huntley was taken down by Lynch, as well as state prosecutors.

Then there’s the wide-ranging case involving state Sen. Malcolm Smith of Jamaica, City Councilman Dan Halloran of Whitestone, former Republican Party bigwig Vince Tabone of Bayside and three other operatives outside of Queens. They’re all charged for their various roles in an alleged scheme to rig the mayoral election for Smith, who of course wouldn’t have a chance of winning but must think so much of himself he thought it was worth pulling out all stops to get on the ballot. That case is being prosecuted by Bharara’s office.

Last week, also thanks to Bharara’s team, the chances that City Comptroller John Liu will ever head City Hall suffered a major blow when his former campaign treasurer, Jia “Jenny” Hou, and a key fundraiser, Xing Wu “Oliver” Pan, were found guilty of operating a straw donor scheme. They were allowing contributions way over the legal limit and each face possible decades in prison. It’s too bad that the promising Liu has seen his run overshadowed by a corruption case, since he has not personally been charged with any wrongdoing, but you can bet the next corrupt campaign that considers pulling the same stunt will think twice, and that’s very good news.

We expect the dominoes to keep falling. Huntley, it turns out, was wearing a wire for months, as the feds sought to get the goods on any other corrupt politicians she may have been in contact with. On Wednesday, the court released the names of nine individuals she recorded conversations with, and Lynch’s office said three of them had provided “evidence useful to law enforcement.” Let’s see who’s indicted next.

It’s too bad Bharara and Lynch aren’t running for office. Maybe one day. We could use more electeds with their integrity.

Welcome to the discussion.