A city councilman charged in a corruption case that has rocked New York politics said Wednesday he won’t run for re-election after being accused of taking bribes to help a would-be mayoral candidate try to get on the ballot.
Councilman Daniel Halloran said Wednesday that he wouldn’t seek to keep his Queens seat in November’s election so he could focus on exonerating himself.
“Regrettably, I must now focus my attention on clearing my name and restoring my reputation,” the one-term Republican said in a statement. “… I have concluded that it is impossible for me to properly do these things and take on the enormous demands of a political campaign.”
Halloran, who ran for Congress just last year, was arrested last month in a case that federal prosecutors called an exemplar of a money-talks political culture.
He’s accused of accepting thousands of dollars in payoffs to help state Sen. Malcolm Smith, a Democrat, bribe local Republican officials to let him run for mayor this year on the GOP line.
“Smith drew up the game plan, and Councilman Halloran essentially quarterbacked that drive by finding party chairmen who were wide open to receiving bribes,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said when the charges were unveiled.
While accepting a $7,500 cash bribe from a cooperating witness, Halloran was recorded saying, “That’s politics…. It’s all about how much…. That’s our politicians in New York; they’re all like that,” according to Bharara.
Halloran, 42, also faces criminal charges and a council ethics probe over allegations that he agreed to steer up to $80,000 in council money to a company in exchange for more bribes. He has been stripped of his authority to allocate money for his district.
A lawyer, Halloran was elected in 2009. He is perhaps best known for making a claim in the aftermath of a December 2010 blizzard that city workers told him there had been a concerted effort to slow plowing to protest budget cuts, he said. After a five-month probe, the city said it found no evidence of an organized slowdown.
Several candidates already are running for his seat, including Republican Rudy Giuliani (a cousin of the former mayor and the chief of staff to neighboring Councilman Eric Ulrich) and Democrats John Duane, a former state assemblyman and Austin Shafran, a former spokesman for the state’s Senate Democrats.
Giuliani, the New York Post reported, met Wednesday with his more famous cousin before making the decision to run.