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Scandal Raises Questions About Member Items
A recording of a wiretap featuring Councilman Dan Halloran bragging that he could extract tens of thousands of dollars from the City Council to use as a bribe has brought attention back to oversight of the council's member items. Although there isn't evidence Halloran did what he bragged a number of mayoral candidates are using the issue to attack fellow candidate Council Speaker Quinn. Bill de Blasio blasted Quinn at a press conference saying, "these things happened under her watch." Bill Thompson and Sal Albanese also attacked Quinn's record on member items. Republican Mayoral hopeful Joe Lhota called for an inspector general to oversee the council in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. Lhota has attacked Quinn's proposal for an NYPD inspector general. “There have been so many accusations over the last four to six years about the abuse of member items,” Lhota told the Journal. “I think it’s about time that the council seriously consider having an inspector general for itself, to oversee what is obviously an area that is ripe for people with bad character.”
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More details have emerged from the arrest of State Sen. Malcolm Smith and Councilman Dan Halloran. Four local Republicans were arrested as well, including the Bronx party chairman and the Queens party vice chairman. Another worked on John Catsimatidis's campaign but has now been fired. All six were charged with wire fraud and bribery. The senator was also charged with extortion. The money from the bribes was to come from state funding secured by Smith for upstate developers - actually an informant and undercover FBI agent - who would then pay the GOP leaders. Halloran was using council discretionary funds. Smith had previously survived a series of scandals and Halloran was hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. This is just the latest in a series of Albany scandals.
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Republican Councilman Daniel Halloran criticized his competitor in the race for the 6th Congressional District after raising money during an event hosted by Assemblyman Sheldon Silver on the 11th anniversary of Sept. 11.
Standing outside City Hall earlier today, Halloran said he "can't imagine" what Democratic opponent Grace Meng was thinking.
"Yesterday she was out trying to get money from New Yorkers on the 9/11 holiday," he told the Gazette. "I'm absolutely disgusted as someone who lost a cousin on that day."
A spokesman for Meng's campaign said that the candidate "spent the day commemorating the tragic events of September 11th with various organizations throughout the city."
"Indeed, one of those events was a lunch with Speaker Silver where Grace had the opportunity to share her remembrances with community leaders," spokesman Austin Finan said in a statement emailed to the Gazette. "To be clear, it was not a fundraiser. It was a meet and greet lunch. If individuals in attendance chose to contribute to Grace Meng's campaign, that was their prerogative."