With the arrest Monday of another former state Senate majority leader, Albany has seen 32 state-level officials snared in corruption cases in the past seven years.
The fourth arrest in the past four weeks came as the Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who campaigned to clean up Albany, had repeatedly insisted that state politics has shed its dysfunctional past.
“They can’t continue to go forward saying Albany is working great and it’s no longer dysfunctional,” said Bill Mahoney of the New York Public Interest Research Group. “This is clearly not true.”
New Yorkers seemed to doubt it, too.
Two weeks ago, more than 80 percent of New Yorkers in a Siena College poll predicted another indictment. They were right. On Monday, a federal prosecutor accused Democrat Sen. John Sampson of Brooklyn of funneling funds into his failed campaign for Brooklyn district attorney.
The latest spate of arrests has sent fear throughout the Legislature, because two lawmakers working as informants for federal prosecutors secretly recorded years of conversations in Albany and New York City.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University poll and a journalist who covered New York politics starting in 1960. “It’s one thing after another and it amazes me.
“The idea of not one but two legislators would wear a wire, it’s disgraceful,” Carroll said. “I’m not usually one short of comment, but, honest to G-d, this takes your breath away.”
The arrests “made a bad situation worse,” said Cuomo, who pushed through what he’d called a historic ethics reform in 2011. He said in a radio interview that the charges should energize New Yorkers to back his latest reforms, which include public financing of campaigns and an independent enforcement headed by his appointee.
“The governor loses an important part of his narrative in that he has made Albany work better and helped to make Albany a better place,” said Steven Greenberg of the Siena College poll.