The corruption trial of former state Sen. Malcolm Smith began Tuesday with his attorney arguing the disgraced pol's mayoral ambitions were pure.
"He was a man ready and willing to do good, not ready and willing to commit a crime. . . . Cash envelopes over drunken steak dinners were the opposite of what he wanted," lawyer Evan Lipton said in White Plains Federal Court.
Prosecutors charge that Smith engineered a $200,000 scheme to bribe his way onto the 2013 Republican ballot for mayor. Smith's co-defendant, former Queens GOP Vice Chairman Vincent Tabone, allegedly helped him distribute the cash to the powerbrokers whose support he required.
Authorities say that Tabone accepted $20,000 at a boozy dinner at Sparks Steak House in Midtown on Smith's behalf from an undercover agent he believed to be a developer looking to curry favor.
Actually, what Smith wanted was to become mayor of the City of New York on the Republican ballot line. Whether or not that was ever a realistic idea is a matter best left to late-night comedy shows, or speculation of what a universe would look like where everyone is as plain dumb as Malcolm Smith.
Because the sad fact is that he's dumb as a brick, just slightly less eloquent. He has however rendered an invaluable public service; establishing a rough price tag for the purchase of a New York politician. Turns out it's $20,000. Steak optional.
This post was written by Michael Bouldin.
(image via Michael Bouldin)