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Politicians Arrested in Alleged Plot to Rig New York City Mayoral Race: Bribery, Extortion, and Wire and Mail Fraud

"Public service is not supposed to be a shortcut to self-enrichment."

Political corruption is to be expected, but this story could shape up to be one for the record books. This morning, the Associated Press reported that New York state Sen. Malcolm Smith (a Democrat) and New York City Councilman Dan Halloran (a Republican) were arrested in an alleged plot to rig the New York City mayor's race.

According to the FBI, Smith and Halloran were detained early Tuesday at their homes (both in Queens, New York). The charges being waged against them, of course, are lofty. In addition to possibly impacting their careers, the implications clearly run deeper, shedding light on a purported plot involving the city's most important election.

Sen. Malcolm Smith, D-Queens, speaks in the Senate on Monday, Feb. 11, 2013, in Albany, N.Y. Credit: AP 

When asked why he was being arrested, Halloran told a New York Post reporter that he had "no idea."

"I’m sure the truth will come out once I have an opportunity to find out what’s going on," he purportedly told the outlet.

But officials were more than definitive in outlining the charges against the two. In a statement, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said that Smith "tried to bribe his way" into a shot at the New York City mayoral race. The official claims that Smith "drew up the game plan" and that Halloran found party chairmen who were open to receiving bribes.

The New York Post has more from Bharara's statement:

“Today’s charges demonstrate, once again, that a show-me-the-money culture seems to pervade every level of New York government. The complaint describes an unappetizing smorgasbord of graft and greed involving six officials who together built a corridor of corruption stretching from Queens and the Bronx to Rockland County and all the way up to Albany itself..."

As alleged, Senator Malcolm Smith tried to bribe his way to a shot at Gracie Mansion – Smith drew up the game plan and Councilman Halloran essentially quarterbacked that drive by finding party chairmen who were wide open to receiving bribes. After the string of public corruption scandals that we have brought to light, many may rightly resign themselves to the sad truth that perhaps the most powerful special interest in politics is self-interest."

City Councilman Daniel Halloran III speaks during a New York City Board of Health public hearing on the proposal to limit the size of sugary drinks Tuesday, July 24, 2012 in New York. New York faced the next step in a bitter battle over large sugary drinks Tuesday, with the soft drink and restaurant industries protesting the mayor's proposed ban and the public lining up to have its say. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

And Smith and Halloran aren't the only politicians who have been targeted in the probe.

Also charged are: Bronx County Republican Party Chairman Joseph Savino; Queens County Republican Party Vice Chairman Vincent Tabone; Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin; and Spring Valley Deputy Mayor Joseph Desmaret.

"Elected officials are called public servants because they are supposed to serve the people," FBI Assistant Director George Venizelos said in a statement, according to the Post. "Public service is not supposed to be a shortcut to self-enrichment."

Charges in the case include bribery, extortion, and wire and mail fraud. Full details of the purported plot will purportedly be shared at a news conference later today.

This is a breaking news story. Stay tuned for updates.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

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