When 38th District Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio was charged with corruption last Wednesday, he was not the exception. In fact, he was only part of a growing problem among lawmakers at every level, but that apparently finds a comfortable home among New York City politicians when they move up to Albany.
To be exact, eight state lawmakers from The Big Apple have been indicted or sentenced for abusing their offices since 2003. That doesn’t even include the state comptroller, Alan Hevesi, also from Queens, who resigned after pleading guilty to felony charges.
Governor Eliot Spitzer and Westchester Country district attorney, Jeanine Pirro, were both caught on a wiretap, and though neither were tried for any crimes, Mr. Spitzer resigned. The wiretaps in the Seminerio case tellingly included conversations with a slew of New York politicians.
According to the 17-page complaint filed in Manhattan court last week, Seminerio allegedly pointed the finger at two more senators involved in corrupt methodologies, though these are still unnamed to the public or media.
Now, more scrutiny will no doubt unveil those identities, but the whole concept is enough to baffle the smartest of men. Or maybe it’s more of a disappointment rather than sheer shock or surprise, the sort of naiveté that allows us to suspend ourselves in fictional narratives and play along for entertainment purposes, knowing you’re buying into something.
But this is no entertainment. Politicians have been accused of corruption for as long as there has been a legislature, including bribery, extortion, cronyism, nepotism, patronage, graft, and embezzlement.
Consider a quote from Andrew Jackson, for instance, however utopian it may sound.
“As long as our government is administered for the good of the people, and is regulated by their will; as long as it secures to us the rights of persons and of property, liberty of conscience and of the press, it will be worth defending.”
Is it worth defending anymore? Of course it is, but everyday it seems the news from upstate gets a little worse.