Scandal and Redemption in NY Politics
New York politicians continue to face scrutiny as more charges are unveiled and the New York City mayor’s race begins to heat up with the return of a formerly disgraced congressman.
As MetroFocus reported in April, corruption scandals erupted involving several elected officials. Allegations continued to roll out in May when U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch brought up former State Senator Shirley Huntley (D) on charges of mail fraud and it also was revealed that Huntley had complied to wear a wire to record at least six other elected officials.
In unrelated cases, State Senator William Boyland Jr. (D) was charged with mail fraud and Assemblyman Vito Lopez (D) of Brooklyn resigned due to a report released that recounted the details surrounding accusations of sexual harassment in his office.
According to Jarrett Murphy, editor-in-chief of City Limits, some items on the state agenda are still getting attention despite the distraction of the scandals, such as immigration reform and Governor Cuomo’s (D) initiative for entrepreneurship on college campuses.
“Albany [has] always had a dysfunction problem[...] in our lifetimes,” Murphy said to MetroFocus host, Rafael Pi Roman. “…[T]hat’s largely because of the way power’s divided.”
On top of the state scandals, a formerly disgraced pol from New York, Anthony Weiner, returned to the front pages when he discussed the possibility of running for mayor in the pages of The New York Times Magazine in April.
After holding out for almost a month and teasing the New York tabloids with reports of hiring campaign staff and recording an announcement video, Weiner laid suspicions to rest with a midnight campaign rollout the week before Memorial Day.
Weiner resigned from Congress two years ago after accidentally, publicly sending lewd pictures of himself through social media. Weiner first claimed the pictures were the work of a hacker before coming forward and acknowledging that they were taken and sent by him.
In his New York mayoral campaign announcement video, Weiner’s message revolved around middle class values and his New York upbringing, although he did make a mention of what happened in 2011.
“Look, I made some big mistakes, and I know I let a lot of people down,” Weiner stated. “But I’ve also learned some tough lessons. I’m running for mayor because I’ve been fighting for the middle class and those struggling to make it for my entire life and I hope I get a second chance to work for you.”
“We see that [Weiner] has leapt from being a non-candidate to being in second place,” Murphy said. Polling supports Murphy’s assertion. Marist Poll showed that among registered Democrats, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D) still held onto the lead with 24% but Weiner came in next with 19%, despite his late entry into the race.
Across the boroughs, Murphy and the other reporters working on the Five Borough Ballot project have seen diverse reactions to Weiner. “Staten Island, you know, our most conservative borough is actually the most welcoming to him,” Murphy said.
Meanwhile in Queens, in a neighborhood previously represented by Weiner, voters did not want him to run and in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, voters were not even fully aware of him as a candidate, according to Murphy.
“I suspect that he thinks this is his sort of last best shot, if not to win the mayoralty at least to establish himself as a serious politician again,” Murphy said.