TPM PRIMER: How Not To Buy A New York City Republican Party Mayoral Nomination | Talking Points Memo

Update: April 3, 2013, 3:10 PM

New York’s local political landscape was rocked yesterday morning when bribery, extortion, and fraud charges were unveiled against a group of local politicians and Republican Party officials. According to Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, the centerpiece of this “unappetizing smorgasboard of graft and greed” was a “bribery scheme” to secure State Senator Malcolm Smith a spot in the Republican primary in this year’s New York City mayoral election. But the bigger irony, according to Big Apple campaign insiders, is that city’s GOP party line has already been effectively purchased by others — both effectively and legally. And one of those buyers is current Mayor Michael Bloomberg! Smith probably could have accomplished his goals without resorting to such risky measures if he’d just gone by the standard campaign cash playbook.Smith, who, prior to this scandal, was perhaps best known for his penchant for retro-style suits and a brief feud he had with the rapper Lil’ Wayne, is a Democrat. However, New York City is staunchly blue and the Democratic mayoral primary is crowded with powerful, well-funded frontrunners. That makes opportunistic party switches to the GOP a perennial temptation for Dems, especially ones lacking major name recognition. Smith began publicly mulling making a party switch to run for mayor in the middle of last year. At a press conference Tuesday morning, Bharara said Smith believed he had a better chance amid the less competitive GOP field and that he arranged for $80,000 in cash to be given to two local Republican Party officials to make it happen.

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