With former New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver convicted and now out of the legislature, talk has turned to what must be done to fix Albany. And everyone is weighing in.
Governor Andrew Cuomo insists today’s ethics laws are the strongest in the state's history. He might be right, but it’s not enough - we’re still a national joke. The whole country is following the Skelos Crime Family trial just to laugh at the goombah act of Dean’s dullard son Fredo.
Three things must be done to clean up Albany: First, install term limits. Second, kill state pensions for all convicts. And third, fill the LLC loophole.
When he ran for office [in 2008], New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo pledged to close a loophole in the state's campaign finance regulations allowing corporations and individuals to pour unlimited amounts of money into politics.
Instead, he's become the loophole's biggest beneficiary.New York State forbids corporations from giving more than $5,000 a year to candidates and political committees. But limited liability companies—businesses that share attributes of corporations and partnerships—are allowed to give up to $60,800 to a statewide candidate per election cycle and up to $150,000 a year to candidates and committees overall. What's more, corporations and individuals can set up an unlimited number of LLCs through which to donate, making the caps effectively meaningless.
Which reminds me: Why isn’t anyone from Glenwood Management going to jail? They paid everyone!
The 101-year old billionaire patriarch of the Manhattan luxury real estate company, Leonard Litwin, paid Adam Skelos and Sheldon Silver via illegal schemes. He legally donated $1.2M to Andrew Cuomo's last campaign via the LLC loophole, $500K to Cuomo's business PAC, another $500K to the Democrat Party and more to a variety of Republicans. He's the largest political donor in New York State.
And, if you're Preet Bharara, maybe here's the Cuomo quid pro quo: Cuomo's chief of staff assured that Litwin got a $260M low-interest loan from taxpayers after the governor won re-election. Did he get that loan because he's a rich and legal Cuomo donor, or because of something far more sinister?
We may never find out, but Litwin's Albany fixer, Charles Dorego, has turned state's evidence and is in the bosom of Preet Bharara nowadays singing like a canary. But you can't tell me that Litwin knows nothing of the millions Dorego has handed over to pols, legally and illegally. He has a reputation for watching that size and kind of expenditure closely.
Will Leonard Litwin and his lieutenants be held responsible for feeding the rats? Color me skeptical.