April 5, 2013

Editorial: Staggering immorality


---- — The audacity and downright immorality of a number of people in politics is not only mind boggling, it’s getting worse by the year.

It’s getting worse, not because of the number or the severity of the offenses but because of the increasing outrage on the part of the public with each new revelation. Every time we hear of a new assault on our trust, we’re left to wonder what it will take to jumpstart the consciences of the people in whom we invest ultimate power.

We’re staggered by the gall of people who call themselves “public servants” when they lie, cheat and connive, and we think that’s about as low as one of them could get — until the next one lies, cheats and connives.

By now, the term “politician” has become sullied almost beyond reclamation. Public trust? To many people, it’s a fantasy.

The latest of the politicians to come under official scrutiny is state Sen. Malcolm Smith, who has held some of the highest positions in New York: He has led the Democratic Party in the Senate, being both majority and minority leader, depending on the sway of elections.

He is accused of trying to bribe his way onto the Republican ballot for New York City mayor. He has been arrested, along with four other politicians, charged with conspiring to illegally influence an election — buying the mayoralty.

He has not been found guilty yet. But he is accused of making tens of thousands of dollars in bribes to two Republican leaders. As a Democrat, Smith, who is from Queens, needed the approval of GOP leaders to get on the ballot.

Gov. Cuomo and others in power have tried to enact laws that will curtail and prevent such shenanigans, but for every good defense there seems to be a better offense. The public is left to wonder how many schemes go undetected and unpunished.

Accused co-conspirator Dan Halloran, a Republican city councilman from Queens who reportedly tried to bribe his way to advance to Congress, was quoted by the Associated Press as saying, “That’s politics … that’s our politicians in New York, they’re all like that, all like that.”

That’s where we draw the line. We’d challenge anybody to follow our state representatives — Janet Duprey of Peru, Betty Little of Queensbury and, from what we’ve seen so far, Dan Stec of Queensbury — for a term and find any such indiscretions.

But, their reputations suffer, by default, because of the despicable actions of their fallen colleagues.

They deserve better. So do we.