Archive for the tag 'corruption'

Michael Franzese grew up as the son of the notorious Underboss of New York’s violent and feared Colombo crime family. At his most affluent, he generated an estimated $5 to $8 million per week from legal and illegal businesses. It was a life filled with power, luxury…and deadly violence.

Michael Franzese

Michael Franzese, a former New York mobster who claims to be responsible for organizing the Russian mafia in Brighton Beach in the 1980s, answered questions on the website Reddit.

Franzese, became a “made” Colombo soldier in 1975 and made millions bootlegging gasoline in what has become known as the gas-tax scheme. In 1987 he was indicted. Franzese has since become a born-again Christian and has left the Mafia behind, a luxury few mobsters can get away with in a culture that will often kill before they let a member go solo.

He served three years, and when he was released he wrote several books based on his experience as a Brooklyn mobster. His titles include “The Good, The Bad, and the Forgiven” and “I’ll Make You an Offer You Can’t Refuse.”

During his Ask me Anything on Reddit, where online users are given the chance to ask a featured person anything over the site, Franzese discussed his gas-tax scheme and the Brighton Beach Russian mob.
Here are some pieces of the conversation. The full AMA can be found on Reddit’s website.
Note: Since this was performed over the Internet. Franzese tried to answer as many questions as possible so there are many spelling errors and other problems that come with hurried responses.

Q: Any stories of interaction with other organized crime “families”, such as Russian mob, Yakuza, Outlaw bike clubs, mexican prison gangs, etc?

A: A million. Spent 20 years in the life. Organized the Russian mob from Brighton beach in the gas business. Best partners I ever had. I taught them how to defraud the government out of hundreds of millions of dollars of tax money back then. They now are deep into medicare fraud, setting up fraudulent medical clinics all over the country. Would take hours to tell you all the stories. Take care.

During the interview, questioners often asked him what was the most accurate film depiction of the mob world. He said that Goodfellas did the best job of depicting the evil side of the mob. Many parts of the movie were actually filmed in Brooklyn and Staten Island.

More on the gas-tax scheme.

Q:Where did you get the idea for the gas station scheme? And since it was getting so big, did you have any sort of an exit strategy in case the authorities got too close? Or would you just keep running the scam until you went down with the ship?

A: gas tax scheme was one in a million. so much money. better then drugs and a lot less ugly. a guy in the biz came to me when some other mob guys tried to shake him down and move in on his business. i chased the guys away and the 2 of us devised this scheme to defraud the government out of the tax money on every gallon of gas. at it’s height, we sold 500 million gallons of gas a month and kept 20 – 30 cents a gallon of the tax money. do the math. lots of money.

Q: What was it like walking away from the mafia, was it accepted or were you threatened or hounded in any way? Also what were the actual logistics of your gas tax scam. how were neither the irs or any federal agency not able to successfully audit you?

A:I struggled mightily for years after walking away. my father disowned me. the family put a hit on me. the feds tried to make me a witness. lots of pressure. very tough. and very tough for me personally. even though i didn’t hurt anyone, i felt like i betrayed my oath and it really troubled me. only God and time were able to fix that. gas tax scheme was complicated, but we were way ahead of the authorities, they could not figure out what we were doing. if my partner didn’t turn snitch, they would never figured out the scam.

Franzese returns to the Russian mob topic.

Q: How does the mob or other organized crime compare today with your day? Is it worse? Better? More or less brutal?’

A:my day was pretty much towards the end of the golden age of the mob that began in the late 40′s. different today. i wouldn’t want to be a part of it. we had some integrity about us. respect and honor did mean something with the old timers. today??? the Russians have gotten pretty violent at times. but it’s all not what it was.

The former mob enforcer ends the interview by addressing the youth of today that might be attracted to the romanticized world of the mob.

 life on the street and in the mob is a dead end. prison or death is the way it will end today. i would not go into that life, knowing what i know now. i try my best to drum this into the head of our young people, gangbangers. not worth it for me or for anyone in the life. trust me.

Andrew Gounardes (Photo by Carol Dronsfield)

The following is an opinion article submitted by Andrew Gounardes, a local attorney, vice president of the Bay Ridge Democrats and 2012 candidate for State Senate

Last week, the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption released a report detailing an enraging, though not surprising, level of corruption in our state government. The Commission’s report identified so many illegal activities, and incredulous abuses of legal activities, they can’t all be listed here. Here’s just a sampling of the worst offenses:

  • Pay-to-play politics – High-powered donors contribute to political campaigns in exchange for legislation that would reap a windfall on their business interests. One developer received a real estate tax credit worth $50 million last year just to build one luxury building in Manhattan.
  • Campaign finance loopholes – New York has some of the highest campaign contribution limits in the country, and yet many donors skirt those rules by donating through different corporate and LLC accounts. One donor was found to have used 25 different corporate accounts to make $3 million in contributions.
  • Misuse of campaign funds – There are no meaningful limits on what politicians can spend their campaign dollars on. Members of the legislature routinely use campaign funds to pay for personal expenses such as car leases and personal mortgages.

So what can we do to limit, if not outright stop, such blatant corruption? The answer is pretty simple and we already do it in New York City: public financing of elections.

Currently, the campaign finance system rewards big donors and the politicians they donate to. If we lower the amount of money someone can donate to a campaign, incentivize small-dollar donations through a public matching system, and limit how those campaign dollars are spent, we can break the corruption cycle of wealthy donors buying off politicians and politicians using campaign funds to pay for vacation homes and luxury cars.

Public financing will also make politicians more responsive to voters. Under New York City’s system, any contribution up to $175 gets matched by city dollars at a rate of 6:1; a $175 donation is really worth $1050. Under the current rules in New York State, one donor who contributes $1000 has more influence than five donors who each contribute $175. That’s ridiculous. If we replicated the New York City program at the state level, those five donors contributing $175 would outweigh the one donor contributing only $1000.

Opponents of campaign finance reform say that it costs too much money. They feign outrage at spending tax dollars on political campaigns and hope that if they scream loud enough, you won’t notice why the really oppose reform: because they benefit enormously from the status quo.

Here’s the truth: public financing of campaigns will cost approximately $41 million a year, or just $3.20 per taxpayer in New York per year. In other words, getting rid of corruption in New York State will cost $9 million LESS than the $50 million tax break that our politicians gave to that luxury building developer last year. Think about that: one fewer tax break to a wealthy donor can pay for a more honest government.

To me, the answer seems clear. Let’s start cleaning up Albany and start restoring faith in state government again by enacting true campaign finance reform.

Andrew Gounardes is an attorney, vice president of the Bay Ridge Democrats and 2012 candidate for State Senate

hockejos

There are at least a dozen cameras between these houses.

John Hockenjos successfully won his freedom after fighting a false arrest in 2011, but he remains mired in a legal battle that threatens to see his property turned over to what he says is an unscrupulous developer. This month, a Queens-based state senator joined the battle, saying Hockenjos is another in a long line of victims of malfeasance and incompetence at the Department of Buildings.

Hockenjos and his wife, Irina, have been fighting with their East 23rd Street neighbors Elen and Argo Paumere since June 2009, when the Paumeres purchased the home next to them with plans for an ambitious overhaul. According to the Hockenjoses, red flags flew fast when they were approached to sign documents turning over a two-foot easement to their new neighbor.

They didn’t sign, and that triggered an all-out war between property owners, according to the Hockenjoses, which includes allegations of physical violence, corruption and even involvement in the false arrest. It has also cost them their jobs, their health, and more than $150,000 in legal fees, they say.

“We’re jobless. We’re money-less. Our health was destroyed tremendously. We lost our reputation,” Irina Hockenjos told Sheepshead Bites. “[The neighbors say] we’re criminals in all kind of ways. We’ve sued them in civil court because they’ve said we’re insane, and that John is a Russian mobster and he walks naked in the street.”

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Honoring real survivors at a Holocaust Memorial Park ceremony. Photo by Erica Sherman

The ringleader of a $57.3 million fraud scheme that siphoned money from of a Holocaust reparations fund was sentenced to eight years behind bars yesterday, announced United States Attorney Preet Bharara.

Semen Domnitser played a pivotal role in the scheme, prosecutors say, having worked as a caseworker and program director that processed the fraudulent applications in return for kickbacks. Domnitser gave his seal of approval to ineligible recipients, many of whom were born after World War II and at least one that was not even Jewish.

In addition to eight years in prison, Domnitser was sentenced to three years of supervised release, ordered to forfeit $59,230 and pay restitution in the amount of $57.3 million.

“As the highest ranking insider to participate in this despicable fraud against the Holocaust Claims Conference, Mr. Domnitser played an integral role in the scheme by processing fraudulent applications to the Conference and turning a profit of thousands of dollars for himself,” said Bharara in a press release. “With today’s sentence, he will be held to account for victimizing Holocaust survivors by diverting funds meant to help them to his own pocket and contributing to this $57 million scheme.”

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Source: Senator Golden's offices

State Senator Marty Golden (Source: Senator Golden’s offices)

New York Times columnist Michael Powell took State Senator Marty Golden and Sheepshead Bay’s State Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz to task for sponsoring legislation that would have directed millions of dollars to the tobacco industry, and came, Powell writes, at the behest of a campaign contributor.

The legislation in question is a bill to reform the security tax stamp placed on cigarettes that proponents said would help combat cigarette bootlegging and raise $6 million for enforcement.

But in reality, Powell writes, it would have authorized an increase in payments for cigarette wholesalers who place the stamps, raising the take from two cents per pack to five cents per pack.

When Golden was questioned during a hearing on the bill by State Senator Liz Krueger about the increase, he chalked it up to rising costs.

Mr. Golden began to mutter of higher costs for wholesalers: Con Ed, health benefits, gasoline, rent, trucks, whatever. “That’s all increased much more than the dollars that we are asking for here,” he said, a touch plaintively.

This was not true, at least percentagewise. A 1996 dollar, adjusted for inflation, is worth $1.49 today. The bill backed by Mr. Golden and Mr. [Jeff] Klein, who intently watched this debate from his desk, would more than double the revenue of the wholesale firms.

Klein, leader of the Independent Democratic Conference, which shares power with the Republican party in the State Senate after forming an unusual alliance that shut Democrats out of leadership, co-authored the bill with Golden.

It was introduced in the State Assembly by Cymbrowitz.

According to the Times report, the bill was put forward at the behest of Leonard Schwartz, a Manhattan Beach resident and chairman of Global Wholesale Tobacco. Schwartz has been a generous contributor to the campaign coffers of Klein, Golden and, less so, Cymbrowitz.

Of course, none of this is illegal, and the bill eventually died. But Powell opines that it’s deeply symptomatic of the pay-to-play culture that pervades Albany, wherein politicians can legally except funds from corporate interests, and then push legislation that steers large sums of money into their pockets.

Neither Golden nor Cymbrowitz commented on the bill to the New York Times. But a Klein ally, Senator Diane Savino, who represents Coney Island, went on the attack when asked about it by Politicker yesterday:

“I think people should take a step back and stop pretending to be outraged because it’s absolute nonsense,” Ms. Savino told Politicker at a Hurricane Sandy press conference in Coney Island. “You can take any issue and you can find a way to twist it to make it seem like something nefarious. In every one of these articles you see is a caveat there: ‘There’s nothing illegal about this.’ Well if that’s the case, why are you writing it?”

It’s worth noting that Savino, too, has benefited from Schwartz’s largesse. He donated $500 to her campaign in 2012, according to state campaign filings.

Powell, though, responded by pointing out that it’s his duty as a reporter to point out transactions of questionable ethics, even if it’s not against the law – especially when the subjects are those who make the law.

“If all we wrote about was the illegality in Albany without looking at all the shades of moral and ethical murk that encompass it, we wouldn’t be doing our jobs as journalists,” Powell told Politicker. “If a politician does hack work, the politician can’t really complain.”

For the Republican senator, the news comes on the heels of another alleged pay-to-play scheme, in which Golden introduced legislation that would grant large tax breaks to five luxury developments in Manhattan, saving them tens of millions of dollars. The tax breaks were intended to spur residential construction and affordable housing, but the luxury properties were included under an exception proposed by Golden in the Senate, and Keith Wright in the Assembly.

The developers had contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to leadership in both parties, including Golden.

When asked, Golden could not explain who added the giveaway to the legislation, or what justified it. The Moreland Commission, charged with investigating corruption in Albany, subpoenaed the developers in August.

Oberman

Three candidates in the race to replace term-limited Councilman Michael Nelson have traded allegations of campaign improprieties to the Campaign Finance Board, burdening their opponents with additional paperwork and spurring them to cry foul.

Five complaints have been made targeting three different candidates. Four of them appear to have come from just one campaign – Igor Oberman’s – and were dismissed. The Campaign Finance Board (CFB) is responsible for overseeing the city’s public campaign finance system, documenting donations and expenditures, and investigating complaints of misused public funds.

The issue most recently came to light in a Daily News report about a so-called “probe” into an alleged “scheme” by Igor Oberman, which they described as “under investigation.” According to the paper, the Board was looking into a complaint made by Ari Kagan’s campaign that Oberman, board president of Trump Village 4, was soliciting campaign donations from seven companies with active contracts at the housing development.

However, the newspaper appears to have trumped up the charges.

According to Kagan, his complaint arose from his concern that Oberman was misusing the co-op’s money to promote his candidacy. In July, using funds from the co-op, Oberman sent mailers to district residents promoting a Family Day event at the co-op, co-sponsored by the Kings Bay Y. The flier had a photo of Oberman and his family.

“[My complaint] is about co-op money. I believe co-op money should be used for improving security, improving elevators, not for promoting candidates,” Kagan told Sheepshead Bites. “I personally received three mailings about him and his family. And none of them were paid by for his campaign, but all were sent to prime Democratic voters.”

Kagan claims Oberman has similarly used co-op money for a variety of advertising, including three large “billboards” around Trump Village. The ads purport to promote the co-op’s amenities and available units, but heavily feature Oberman’s name and face, Kagan said.

If the co-op board’s advertising is found to have intentionally aided Oberman’s campaign, the CFB could fine the campaign tens of thousands of dollars.

Kagan stressed that his complaint did not mention the contractors’ donations. The CFB cannot comment on complaints until a judgement has been made, including confirming or denying whether a complaint exists.

Additionally, if Oberman had solicited contributions from his the co-ops vendors, it may be within the law. Candidates may legally accept contributions from personal or professional contacts so long as no promises or favors are granted, although the ethical implications are up to voters and co-op residents to decide.

“Campaigns may accept contributions from individuals up to the contribution limit for each office. The CFB’s audits of every campaign help ensure that campaigns are complying with the law,” said Matthew Sollars, spokesperson for the CFB.

Kagan’s complaint against Oberman, though, isn’t the first complaint hailing from the 48th District this year. According to Sollars, Kagan has been the subject of three complaints, and Theresa Scavo received another.

Kagan said all of the complaints filed by Oberman were intentionally frivolous, and show an attempt to tie up his opponents with paperwork since the CFB is required to consider all complaints.

“[His latest] complaint was about me not being a journalist. He wrote that I never worked as a journalist on TV or radio before the campaign, Kagan said. “Can you imagine? So of course it was dismissed.”

In fact, all of the complaints against Oberman Kagan and Scavo were unanimously dismissed by the Board. The CFB has not acknowledged the complaint against Oberman, suggesting that it remains under review. (Corrected – see below)

“He filed three complaints against me, all three were dismissed,” Kagan said. “And Theresa Scavo complained to me that he filed complaints against her. I understand hes a lawyer, but why?”

Kagan said he believes Oberman is trying to tie up his campaign with paperwork, rather than allow him to get the word out.

Scavo, in an interview with Sheepshead Bites in July, echoed the same frustration, although she did not identify the source of the complaints at the time.

“This is what they’re doing to me to keep me distracted and busy. All you must do is lodge complaints, and CFB has to investigate,” Scavo said at the time. “It’s a delay tactic, wasting my time while I’m defending myself with all this garbage.”

But Oberman said he’s just trying to keep his opponents honest.

“My opponents were not properly reporting their campaign expenses. Due to my diligence and knowledge of the rules, they were forced to comply with the law. As a Judge, I take campaign finance laws very seriously and am not afraid to speak up when I see wrongdoing,” said Oberman. “I apologize if Ari and Theresa needed to take an extra 10 minutes in order to run transparent campaigns.”

Oberman declined to comment on the allegations made against him, or why promotional materials for the co-op heavily featured his name and image.

Sheepshead Bites submitted a Freedom of Information request to the Campaign Finance Board nearly two weeks ago to provide documents detailing the complaints made and by which campaign. The documents were not produced by the time of this report.

Scavo, Oberman and Kagan will face off tomorrow, September 10, in the Democratic primaries, alongside Chaim Deutsch and Natraj Bhushan. Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Find your poll site here.

Correction (3:23 p.m.): A previous version of this post erroneously stated that “all of the complaints against Oberman and Scavo were unanimously dismissed.” In fact, we meant Kagan and Scavo. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused.

Michael Levitis Marina Levitis Rasputin Brighton Beach Show

Michael and Marina Levitis (Source: James Edstrom)

Three of the six individuals charged in connection with an alleged debt settlement fraud scheme have pleaded guilty, with the latest one ratting out his former boss Michael Levitis as the mastermind.

The offices of Mission Settlement Agency at 2713 Coney Island Avenue, (Source: Google Maps)

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara announced yesterday that Denis Kurlyand, the former vice president of sales for Sheepshead Bay-based Mission Settlement Agency, pleaded guilty to fraud charges in the multi-million dollar scheme that allegedly preyed on as many as 1,200 debt-saddled victims. After leaving court, Kurlyand then spilled the beans to the New York Daily News, saying that Mission’s de facto owner, and the owner of now-shuttered Rasputin Supper Club (2670 Coney Island Avenue), called the shots.

“I followed instructions from Michael,” Kurlyand, 30, told the paper.

Kuryland, however, didn’t give the paper any details of his plea deal, and faces a maximum of 60 years in prison. He will be sentenced in December, and has agreed to forfeit $2,196,522 to the government.

Rasputin was padlocked in May.

Kurlyand was arrested in May, along with Levitis, Boris Shulman and Manuel Cruz for their roles at Mission Settlement. According to prosecutors, the company claimed to help customers struggling with credit card and bank debt by helping them reach settlements that could cut the amount owed. But the company “systematically exploited and defrauded” customers, the criminal complaint said, by charging fees without ever rendering services.

As we reported in May:

Mission also served as the middle man, collecting payments from customers that were supposed to be passed on to those they owed. Instead, the indictment says, from mid-2009 to March 2013, about 2,200 customers paid nearly $14 million, of which only $4.4 million went to the creditors.

Levitis’ home at 1001 Oriental Boulevard. Prosecutors are moving to seize it to repay his alleged victims. (Source: Google Maps)

The company kept $6.6 million for itself as fees. As many as 1,200 of the clients paid $2.2 million in fees without “a single penny” reaching their creditors.

Meanwhile, Levitis used the remaining funds as his personal piggy bank, directing some of it to pay his own debts on Rasputin Restaurant (2670 Coney Island Avenue), as well as to lease two luxury Mercedes cars. He did also manage to pay down the credit card debt of his mother, Eva, who owned the company on paper, the Post reports.

According to the indictment, as part of his sales pitch, Levitis touted an affiliation with the federal government and one of the three leading credit bureaus in the U.S., relationships that prosecutors say was all smoke.

The U.S. Attorney’s statement elaborated further on Kurlyand’s role:

KURLYAND served as Mission’s Vice President of Sales from 2009 through 2012. In that capacity, he provided instructions to Mission’s sales representatives, who in turn lied to prospective customers about the agency’s fees to induce them to become customers of Mission. KURLYAND also helped arrange for solicitation letters to be sent on Mission’s behalf to prospective customers that falsely suggested that the agency was acting on behalf of or in connection with a federal governmental program. The letter included an image of the Great Seal of the United States and indicated that it was coming from the “Reduction Plan Administrator” of the purported “Office of Disbursement.”

The day of he arrest, prosecutors moved to seize bank accounts and properties of Levitis, and padlocked the iconic restaurant.

Levitis has pleaded not guilty, and claimed to be a victim of government neglect after he supposedly tipped them off to malfeasance by “rogue employees.”

The arrest of two individuals - Felix Lemberskiy and Zakhir Shirinov - related to Mission Settlement preceded the May arrest, and they pleaded guilty in April.

coop-candidates1

Five candidates vying for seats in two different Southern Brooklyn City Council districts participated in a heated debate on Sunday, focusing on reforming co-op laws to benefit as many as one million New York City residents of co-ops.

All candidates expressed support for a shareholder’s bill of rights, which would grant new protections from potentially abusive and exploitative boards of cooperative housing units. Despite the support, the frustrated shareholders – all with horror stories of their own – expressed a lack of confidence in much-needed reform and ultimately turned on the candidates.

Find out where the candidates stand, and how the audience reacted.

Source: Senator Golden's offices

State Senator Marty Golden (Source: Senator Golden’s offices)

Subpoenas were issued to huge real estate firms that scored a windfall in tax breaks in legislation crafted by Republican State Senator Marty Golden and signed by Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the Moreland Commission, a group set up by Cuomo to investigate public corruption, is looking into how developers of ultra-rich hotel-condo towers gained the valuable breaks.

Previously, we reported on the dubious legislation sponsored by Golden, which allowed huge tax breaks for five Manhattan properties. The legislation is expected to save developers like Extell Development, Silverstein Properties and Thor Equities tens of millions of dollars. The bill, which enjoyed bipartisan support and was signed into law by Cuomo, tacked on the expensive properties to the city’s 421-A program, a measure designed to spur residential building construction in less-dense areas of the city and subsidize affordable housing. Projects like One57, which is a 1,004-foot luxury tower featuring penthouses on sale for more than $90 million, were initially excluded from the program until Golden and other state politicians voted to include four developments as an exception under the umbrella of 421-A benefits.

Extell Development, which is building One57, has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the campaign chests of both Democrats and Republicans, spurring the Moreland Commission to look into the affair. The independent Moreland Commission was set up by Cuomo after state legislators failed to pass comprehensive anti-corruption measures this year.

The Wall Street Journal described how the impending investigation might bring to light the uncomfortably close relationship between state politicians and major real estate developers:

One person who examined a subpoena from the commission, known as the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption, said the information requested was extensive, seeking emails and other communications with lobbyists and elected officials over multiple years relating to the tax break.

Kathleen Rice, Nassau County District Attorney and co-chairwoman of the commission, said the commission has begun issuing subpoenas, but she declined to say who received them or the topic of the inquiries. “We have not prejudged anyone or anything—we are going to follow whatever evidence we have, wherever it goes,” she said.

A spokesman for Extell said the company “will cooperate fully with any agency trying to improve government.”

The subpoenas could eventually help shed light on advocacy and lobbying by the real-estate and development sector, long a powerful force in Albany politics. Top landlords and their advocacy groups traditionally are prolific donors, contributing millions of dollars each election cycle collectively to the campaign committees of governors and influential members of the Legislature, and the outcomes of policies like taxes and rent regulation can cost—or make—them fortunes.

Golden and Assemblyman Keith Wright, the Democrat who sponsored the bill in the Assembly, may also be questioned during the investigation. When initially questioned by the press as to why the five properties were included under the umbrella of the 421a benefits, Golden and Wright both pleaded ignorance.

“These projects were ready to go,” Golden told the Daily News. “I’m not sure where they came from,” Golden said in response to who earmarked the developments for special favor.

“These five properties — it was important that they benefit from the piece of legislation probably, and I don’t know why, because some of the folks in the Senate wanted them to be included,” Wright told the Daily News.

Photo by Erica Sherman

Photo by Erica Sherman

There has been a media parade in recent days calling for Anthony Weiner to quit running for mayor. Ever since the ‘Carlos Danger’ revelations become public, a slew of media sources have been speculating and recommending that Weiner exit the race but thus far, Weiner has remained defiant.

A New York Times report listed several prominent national figures calling for Weiner to leave the race including top Obama aide David Axelrod:

“At this point, it’s absurd,” David Axelrod, a former senior adviser to President Obama, said during an appearance on “Meet the Press” on NBC, which devoted a segment to Mr. Weiner’s scandal between reports on the American economy and tumult in Egypt.

“He is not going to be the next mayor of New York; he is wasting time and space,” added Mr. Axelrod, who had no qualms about his animus toward Mr. Weiner. “It’s time for him to go away and let New York have its mayor’s race.”

Polls have also showed that Weiner’s support has sunk, dropping him to fourth place. Even Sydney Leathers, the woman Weiner had been ‘sexting’ with, expressed her thoughts that Weiner is unqualified to be mayor, albeit very obnoxiously.

“As funny as it would be to have a mayor Carlos Danger,” Leathers told Howard Stern, “I think he’s a little to busy jacking off to do anything for the city.”

Still, in the end, news editors, prominent national political leaders and even Sydney Leathers, an Indiana resident, do not get to decide if Weiner should be mayor. That is a right reserved for the people of New York, and it still remains to be seen where they stand. And when Weiner resigned from Congress, he did it at the behest of his colleagues and media voices – not those of his constituents, who likely would have reelected him despite the scandal.

That is why we are putting up a modest poll asking you, actual New Yorkers, whether or not Weiner should quit the race.

I’ll get the discussion rolling by letting you know how I voted. I think Weiner should stay in. Weiner has done nothing illegal and his wife, Huma Abedin, has forgiven him. And on a more technical note, I have heard worse stories of marital indiscretion in real life and in the world of politics. There are things about this case we may never know. Maybe Weiner’s wife always knew of Weiner’s predilection for phone and internet sex and simply didn’t care. There is no story or evidence that Weiner ever actually cheated on her. Are we really going to judge a man for the way he ‘gets off’ especially when his wife, who is the only person it should really concern, has excused him?

The list of politicians throughout American history who have betrayed their wives in one way or another is practically endless. Some of the best presidents in our history have cheated on their wives while some of the worst have remained faithful. In the end, has all the hysteria over the private sex lives of politicians done anything but sell tabloids, newspapers and give professional bloviators another opportunity to stand on soap boxes and spout hypocritical nonsense over the sanctity of god knows what?

Sex isn’t going away, unless the human race does, and by extension, politicians are never going away. I personally find it ridiculous how the Weiner ‘scandal’ has gotten so much attention, especially when New York state politicians, on both sides of the aisle, are swimming in accusations of corruption and graft. What do you think?

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