New York state-senate Republicans decided last night that they would continue to allow Dean Skelos to keep his job as that body’s powerful majority leader. Skelos was indicted on Monday on a six-count federal indictment charging him with extortion, conspiring to commit fraud, and soliciting bribes in a corruption scheme also involving his son, Adam.
The “presumption of innocence” standard that Skelos was granted is certainly understandable. His GOP predecessor as majority leader, Joseph Bruno, was ultimately cleared last year by a jury after two trials.
But something is clearly wrong with the GOP state senate, a hive of special-interest dealing and ethical lapses. Thomas Libous, the No. 2 ranking Republican in the Senate and Skelos’s deputy, is also under federal indictment in a corruption probe. Along with the Democratic-controlled assembly, the state senate has been complicit in making New York a high-tax, overregulated, job-killing center of stagnation.
A jury will ultimately decide Senator Skelos’s guilt, but the indictment prepared by U.S. attorney Preet Bharara is damning. Skelos’s son was apparently frustrated that he couldn’t openly discuss the various contracts and kickbacks his father had allegedly arranged for him.
Here’s how Business Insider summed up a conversation Adam Skelos had with his father:
According to the complaint, Adam Skelos was caught in an “intercepted call” telling his father it was unfortunate he couldn’t get any “real advice” because “you can’t talk normally because it’s like f—ing Preet Bharara is listening to every f—ing phone call. It’s just f–ing frustrating.”
To this, Dean Skelos allegedly responded, “It is.”
Adam Skelos seemed to have other potentially questionable ideas for avoiding detection. According to the complaint, the younger Skelos at one point suggested using Apple’s “FaceTime” video chatting software because it “doesn’t show up on the phone bill, just the data plan.”
Isn’t it time that New York Republicans demand a higher ethical and, yes, principled standard from the men and women they elect to the one part of state government they control?