State legislation: $10,000

state capitol sale sign

For the second time this week, federal prosecutors announced bribery and corruption charges against a state legislator. This time it was state Assemblyman Eric Stevenson, a Democrat from the Bronx. From US Attorney Preet Bharara's statement:

As alleged, Assemblyman Eric Stevenson was bribed to enact a statutory moratorium to give his co-defendants a local monopoly - a fairly neat trick that offends core principles of both democracy and capitalism, simultaneously, and it is exactly what the defendants managed to do. The allegations illustrate the corruption of an elected representative's core function - a legislator selling legislation.

OK, so how much do you think local monopoly-creating state legislation goes for these days? Here's some help: One of the businessmen allegedly involved in this scheme said the moratorium on the opening of new adult day care centers would cause the value of their own day care centers to "skyrocket." That's gotta be worth a lot. So Stevenson must have really raked in some serious coin for this alleged deal, especially when you consider the risks, right?

The alleged bribe: $10,000.

Yep, that's all it allegedly cost to buy a piece of state legislation that would effectively block competition for what is probably a multi-million dollar business. Just 10 grand. That's not even enough to buy a new sub-compact car.

Which leads us to wonder: Why haven't we been buying state legislation all along?! Who knew it was so cheap?! It's practically a steal! Do you get a discount if you buy in bulk? If we order it via Amazon Prime, can we have it delivered the next day (in session only)?

The fact that there is corruption in state government is already frustrating, irksome, and sad -- it's even more so when we find we're all being sold out at such a discount.

A spot in the mayoral primary
Earlier this week, state Senator Malcolm Smith, a Democrat, was charged with being part of scheme to bribe three Republican city officials to let him on their party's primary ballot for mayor of New York City. The alleged price (bribe) for that: about $100,000 paid by an intermediary -- and help getting $500k from the state for a road project.


"Which leads us to wonder: Why haven't we been buying state legislation all along?!"

We have. It's called campaign financing.

That was my thought exactly. If it was a lot of money, I could understand the temptation for some people. But what is the character of a guy who would risk his career, going to prison, etc. for a measly $10k?

I guess now we can look forward to this recent spree prompting consideration of some sort of reform legislation. Historically, when people misbehave there's a lot a public condemnation and chatter about reform. Then, after considerable feet dragging, they can pass some shiny new legislation that's so watered down and meaningless it might as well not exist. That doesn't really matter though since it will still afford the politicians the opportunity to pat themselves on the back and hold a press conference about how they have "fixed the problem."

Well, I'm glad that we can get that campaigning middle man out of the mix, and finally directly buy power! Heck, that's almost affordable! =D Take out a car loan, a home equity loan, and now, a political influence loan! :)

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