At a Moreland Commission public hearing in Manhattan on Tuesday night U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara announced his office will seek new fines that would reduce public pensions that corrupt elected officials earn.
“That error of state law, partially fixed a couple of years ago, must succumb to common sense,” he said in his testimony. “The common-sense principle is a simple one: Convicted politicians should not grow old comfortably cushioned by a pension paid for by the very people they betrayed in office.”
Bharara noted that his office will consider civil forfeiture against their pensions if convicted officials cannot pay their sentencing costs and if their pensions accrue as criminal conduct occurs, and then name dropped two indicted state legislators, Malcolm Smith and Eric Stevenson, to whom his new policy could apply.
He mostly encouraged the Commission to look at the minor offenses of public officials and candidates for elected office, alluding to the “broken windows” theory that former mayor Rudy Giuliani applied to fight crime. “Ultimately, the members of this Commission have an absolutely daunting mission – it is your challenge, amidst high hopes, to hold public officials to account, to expose obscure corners of graft and greed, and to restore faith in honest government,” he said.