Good afternoon and welcome to The Point!
Getting on Trump’s calendar
President-elect Donald Trump took pains to meet with Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District, to offer to keep him on the job in the new administration. With the convictions of two high-profile state legislative leaders, Dean Skelos and Shelly Silver, along with a few others in the rank-and-file, Bharara has become the de facto sheriff of Albany corruption.
Like other lead prosecutors in 94 federal judicial districts, Bharara serves at the discretion of the president.
Robert Capers, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District, is overseeing highly consequential corruption cases on Long Island — and The Point hears that his job tenure has not come up in conversations between Trump and Sen. Chuck Schumer. Schumer, Bharara’s former boss and the highest-ranking Democrat in the country, said he spoke with Trump about keeping Bharara, even providing the prosecutor’s phone number.
Capers’ office is investigating Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and his wife, Linda Mangano, along with Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto. All have been charged in a scheme involving government contracts, bribery, kickbacks and no-show jobs.
Capers also has two other high-profile investigations underway: He is looking into whether Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota and one of his chief assistants took part in covering up a crime that led to the downfall of Suffolk County Police Chief James Burke. Burke was convicted of beating a handcuffed man in custody for stealing embarrassing items from Burke’s SUV. He was sentenced last month to nearly 4 years in prison.
And Capers's investigators have been going over the financial dealings and political connections of Gary Melius, the owner of Oheka Castle.
Bharara has become a national star working on the biggest stage, but with corruption on Long Island at world-class levels and local politicos’ deep GOP connections, making sure the right kind of spotlight keeps shining out east is likely to be a Schumer priority, too.
Anne Michaud, Lane Filler and Rita Ciolli
Not so much love for New York
When is an ugly sign ugly? Apparently, only when it’s blocking the splendid views on Long Island and not giving enough credit to the local sights.
Hempstead Town became the fourth locality to call on state officials to take down the “I Love NY” tourism signs that have sprung up around New York. All four localities decrying the size and message of big blue signs are on Long Island.
Earlier Friday, Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony Santino said: “These signs do absolutely nothing” to direct tourists to the great local attractions, such as the beaches at Point Lookout and Jones Beach, or the sportfishing in Freeport.
Instead, the signs carry the logos of various state tourism initiatives of Empire State Development.
Port Jefferson, Orient and Montauk have had success in getting some signs removed. Some will be replaced with smaller signs. The communities may love NY, but they love Long Island more.
Democratic favorite Anthony Weiner is back in the news after being hit with more than $60,000 in fines by the New York City Campaign Finance Board for misuse of funds in the 2013 mayoral race in which he went (not for the last time) down in flames.
The 10 violations included using campaign funds for dry-cleaning and a personal phone. It’s unclear whether the phone was that phone. The former congressman also must return more than $195,000 in unspent public funds.
Weiner should count himself lucky that these are the strictest punishments yet levied on him, considering October revelations of a federal criminal investigation into alleged sexting with a teenage girl. Or the fact that the investigation led to an announcement by FBI Director James Comey of an email probe that Hillary Clinton blames for sinking her presidential campaign.
Millions of jilted Democrats might feel that the board is far too toothless considering Weiner’s noncampaign-finance crimes.