Wednesday, December 16, 2009

New York Focus: The Ongoing Working Families Party Scandal

I got a fair amount of crap from people about my coverage of the Working Families Party scandal, wherein WFP was caught red handed violating campaign finance laws. Several people told me to lay off them because they are progressives. To me, though, corruption by people I agree with on policy is worse than corruption by Republicans, who I expect it from. So I covered the WFP scandal despite attacks from fellow progressives.

Well, now WFP and one of their star candidates, Developer Shill Bill de Blasio, have been subpoenaed by the U.S. Attorney's Office. So folks, it isn't just me who thinks WFP, Developer Money, and Bill de Blasio are rotten to the core despite their progressive rhetoric. From the New York Observer:

The Working Families Party has received a subpoena from the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District seeking information in connection with its efforts in the 2009 elections, a spokesman for the labor-backed party confirmed...

The party is being sued for its work on Staten Island Councilwoman-elect Debi Rose's campaign. A judge ruled last week that the trial can go forward.

It was also the subject of at least one complaint filed with the CFB.

Three days after the Nov. 3 elections, the party announced it had hired Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom to conduct a thorough review of the structure and relationship between the WFP and its for-profit arm, Data & Field Services. The review is being led by former Chief Judge Judith Kaye...

It's hard to overstate how bad this could be for the WFP.

I personally think that WFP skirted the edge of legality close enough that in the end there will be little actual punishment for their actions. But in my mind they have finally abandoned all pretense of being a reform organization. They have shown a complete willingness to bend and break laws and cooperate with corrupt political machines like the Vito Lopez machine in Brooklyn. WFP may well survive this scandal, but it is a real scandal nonetheless and one that finally shows their true colors: they are nothing more than another corrupt machine interested in their own power more than in actual governance. In this sense they are the same as the Vito Lopez or Clarence Norman machine which had perfectly respectable policy stands in most cases, but were corrupt as can be. I have high expectations of my fellow progressives. I don't accept corruption just because they have good rhetoric on policy. I find the corruption of Brooklyn's Democratic machine embarrassing as hell, and the corruption of the WFP is just as bad if not worse.

For a LOT more on the WFP scandal (I haven't covered it much recently due to taking some time off from blogging) please see the excellent coverage by the City Hall News here, here, here and here. And that's just the stuff published since I took a break from blogging.

(P.S. I know some of you out there are going to complain about this article, but how the hell can I speak out against Republican corruption if I don't speak out against this crap?)32

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