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Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara made quite a splash this week, indicting five pols in two bribery cases, alleging that New Yorks political system has rampant corruption and broadly condemning unnamed officials who he says know about corruption but keep silent.
Bharara, of course, holds power largely due to one of New Yorks consummate practitioners of politics and money-raising, Sen. Charles Schumer.
He served as Schumers chief counsel from 2005 to 2009 -- part of a six-year cycle in which the senator, a legendary fundraiser, brought in $19.5 million. That total included $2.8 million from the securities industry, while Schumer was serving on Senate committees such as Banking and Finance.
But Bharara apparently saw nothing untoward go on, and by 2009 the two men had a cordial enough relationship that Schumer was his biggest booster for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York.
At one of his press conferences this week, Bharara was asked how he could be shocked that politicians in New York take money from people looking for favors and influence on legislation after what he saw during his years with Schumer in Washington.
I didnt see legislatorsin hotel bathrooms in the Capitol taking hundreds of dollars in an envelope specifically in exchange for legislation that they had drafted, Bharara responded, referring to a charge in his indictment of Bronx Assemb. Eric Stevenson.
Thats perhaps the chief difference.
Theres venality and corruption everywhere, I suppose, where there is money involved, he added. Were not saying there should be no fundraising and campaigns cant raise money. Were saying that the law provides when theres a specific quid pro quo of cash money for official acts, thats unlawful.