In New York politics, money, power, and respect isn't just a Lox album, it's protocol. While corruption in the Empire State is usually associated with the NYPD—Serpico, we see you!—the politicians are just as greasy. And lately, more seem to be getting caught.
With David Paterson forced to drop his re-election bid and Charlie Rangel getting demoted, it's clear that New York's ethics aren't much different than in the neighboring Garden State, which had its dirty weeds pulled last year. The public's trust of all elected officials has always been shaky, and recent events only seem to exacerbate the tension. But with so much shadiness concentrated in NY already this year, here's a closer look at some of the state's biggest political fall guys...
Lee Alexander, 1988
In the late 80's, basketball star Derrick Coleman wasn't the only public figure getting arrested in Syracuse. Mayor Alexander, who ran the city for 16 years, was not just a made man, but a paid man. He wound up doing a six-year bid for accepting $1.5 million in kickbacks. Related news: In his own 16-year career, Derrick Coleman went on to earn over $91 million and did hardly any jail time... despite at least six arrests. Now that's efficiency!
Sol Wachtler, 1992
Right around the time Mayor Alexander was getting booked, the chief judge of the NY Court of Appeals started losing his mind. Initially hailed as a judicial hero for making spousal rape a crime, the former North Hempstead councilman got tangled up in a disturbing situation involving one of his clients: As the executor and trustee of an estate worth more than $24 million, Wacthler started smashing the stepdaughter of the deceased—then when things didn't work out, he threatened to kidnap his jumpoff's daughter. What he ended up with was an 11-month stint in the loony bin, though he eventually got his license back in 2007 and is somehow now a professor at Touro Law School. WTF?
Eliot Spitzer, 2008
The former attorney general of the state entered the governor's office with great expectations to eradicate Wall Street's dirty tricks. Too bad his habit for tricking caught up to him first. (Apparently no one told him that if you're ordering the state police to stalk your adversaries, you might want to hold off on the hookers.) Dude stepped down and immediately began plotting his return. As for his favorite prostitute, Ashley Dupre, she currently offers sex advice. Take notes.
Joseph Bruno, 2008
Spitzer's archenemy couldn't gloat for too long following his rival's resignation; after a lengthy run in the state's senate, the Korean War vet was indicted on eight counts of corruption for taking $3.2 million in favor money.
EnjoyablyIronically enough, he's now facing jail time after a long history of advocating strict sentencing. In fact, during a debate involving the Rockefeller drug laws, he and Russell Simmons faced off in a heated argument that almost came to blows. No Bruno.
Vito Fossella, 2008
Governor Spitzer wasn't the only pol violating his sacred vows in the 0-8; Staten Island's sole GOP rep had hoes in different area codes and drunk-drove to his D.C. chick's crib after getting wasted at the White House. The married lawyer hewed to the "being on your John Edwards shit" line to the end, ending his political ambitions.
Hiram Monserrate, 2009
The state senator and part-time Scientologist allegedly cut his girl in the grill with some broken glass while they were passionately fighting. Hey, you can take the boy out of Queens, but you can't take the Queens out of the boy! After a drawn-out grand jury trial, Monserrate dodged jail time. His political career is done, but maybe he can get a job with the MTA—no, wait, fares aren't a buck-fifty anymore. Zing!
Bernard Kerik, 2010
George Bush nominating Kerik to head the Department of Homeland Security was the worst thing that could have happened to the former NYPD Police Commissioner. Under intense national scrutiny, Kerik withdrew from consideration after admitting that he once hired an illegal immigrant as a nanny. But that was just the tip of the iceberg. The crooked cop recently received a four-year jail term for tax fraud and deceiving the White House. And Bush received a nice severance package for deceiving the country. See how it works?
Charles Rangel, 2010
As chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, the Harlemite was responsible for establishing the tax laws in the country. One of his own self-appointed perks was exempting himself from paying taxes. Nice. He aggressively defended his actions, but lost his leadership position anyway. Chucky, pay your taxes, you hustling backwards!
David Paterson, 2010
When Paterson replaced the disgraced Spitzer as interim governor, he forgot that he was never actually elected and started really feeling himself. When he wasn't embarrassing his wife, he was botching the Democrats' chess game by appointing conservative Kirsten Gillibrand to fill Hillary Clinton's seat. He finally sobered up and dropped out of the governor's race when reports surfaced that he was making intimidating phone calls on behalf of his aide. We can't see it!