Charges of wrongdoing become potent wild cards in any big election -- and the New York City mayoral contest holds a few in the deck.
The federal probe into city Comptroller John Liu's political fundraising grabbed attention at a mayoral candidates' forum in Manhattan on Thursday night. And surprisingly, it was Democrat Liu, playing to an audience full of his cheering fans, who raised the issue.
Over three years, he complained, authorities "wiretapped my phones. . . . They reviewed a million documents and messages. They interrogated thousands of my supporters. And yet, what do they have to show for it? It's time to put up or shut up already."
Liu's ex-campaign treasurer and a contributor were on trial on conspiracy counts before an illness interrupted the case, which is to resume next month.
While Liu campaigns under a cloud, other shadows may be forming. Word suddenly emerged last week of grand-jury subpoenas from a special prosecutor involving the Working Families Party's finances from 2008 to 2010. In 2009, the party's field operation gave key help to Democrat Bill de Blasio in his bid to become the city's public advocate. Party lawyers claim improper secret procedures led to lawyer Roger Adler's assignment as special prosecutor.
Older issues get a new airing. In 2008, the City Council, under Speaker Christine Quinn, weathered revelations of shoddy pork-barrel practices. Two years ago Quinn said she'd "known for quite some time" that a federal probe of the funding procedures had ended, but rival Democrat William C. Thompson Jr. and others lay the "phantom member-items scandal" at her door. And in 2011, Independence Party candidate Adolfo Carrion paid a $10,000 fine to a city ethics board for hiring an architect who was also involved in a housing development backed by Carrion while he was Bronx borough president.
SHIFTING TERRAIN: Some political partisans say it's interesting that out-funded, first-time Democratic candidate Vivianne Falcone of West Islip won more than 47 percent of the vote in the Suffolk portion of the newly drawn 2nd Congressional District, where veteran GOP Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) was re-elected Nov. 6. Within Suffolk, King got 88,383 votes to Falcone's 78,709. King dominated in the new district's smaller Nassau portion, his home turf, where he beat Falcone 71 to 28 percent, or 53,926 to 21,836. Falcone said last week she'd lacked the resources to campaign in Nassau. She said she hasn't decided if she'll try again next year.