Senator arrested: NYC mayoral candidates shocked by election-rigging scandal

Posted at 7:34 PM, Apr 02, 2013
and last updated 2013-04-02 19:57:04-04

MANHATTAN (PIX11) — Disgusting.  Shocking.  Disturbing.

Those are the words NYC mayoral candidates used to describe the news of Senator Malcolm Smith’s alleged plot to rig the race.

PIX11 News caught up with candidates running for the city’s highest office to get their take, including Democrat Bill Thompson.

“We’ve seen problems in the City Council before, involving misuse, theft of discretionary dollars,” Thompson said.  “To see that lack of oversight hasn’t improved is a major problem.”

The alleged misuse of discretionary funds, which are taxpayer dollars allotted to certain public officials, is what seems to irk these candidates the most.  In this case, the U.S. attorney says Councilman Dan Halloran was devoting those discretionary funds to help Smith’s alleged plan to bribe his way on to the ballot.

Democrat Bill De Blasio called it “disgusting to see a councilman go to this kind of extent for his own enrichment and it’s the kind of thing that destroys public faith in government.”

De Blasio is not alone in his disgust.  Republican businessman John Catsimatidis said: “The arrests point to a culture of corruption that permeates out city and state.  Corruption fueled by career politicians who personal advancement before public service.”

That is why some candidates like Independent Adolfo Carrion, Jr. fear the scandal will hurt the race through low turn-out.  In a statement to PIX11, he said, “Anytime our political process is clouded by scandal, it weakens our democracy.”

While one candidate, Joe Lhota, refused to comment at all, others, like Comptroller John Liu, took the opportunity to push his own campaign message.

“As mayor I will certainly redouble those efforts because in a time when fiscal prudence is more important than ever before, we can’t afford any of this nonsense going on,” said Liu.

Meanwhile, Democrat Sal Albanese took the opportunity to take another candidate to task.

“Hopefully it will put integrity front and center in the race… and ban some of the practices in City Council.  Since one of the candidates is the speaker of the City Council, it is going to put her to the test on whether she is really reform-minded or not,” Albanese said.

Quinn, another Democrat running for mayor, retorted, late in the day, saying some statements made today in reference to the speaker are examples of the lowest kind of “mud-slinging,” which shows those candidates “do not know the facts.”

Quinn added the reforms the council made under her leadership “would have made those attempted crimes impossible.”