Nothing is proven and no one has been arrested. Let’s begin there. I am speaking of course about the resignation of William Rapfogel from the charitable Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty. In his statement, Rapfogel didn’t deny wrongdoing. He acknowledged “mistakes.” The allegations involve Century Coverage Corp., a Long Island-based insurance company, which allegedly made contributions to candidates as part of a kickback scheme to reward Rapfogel, who presumably would have gotten something out of it besides just a little cash on the side.
Rapfogel is married to Judy Rapfogel who is Chief of Staff to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. As my colleague Nick Reisman reported yesterday, The Metropolitan Council is the recipient of state contracts from various agencies totaling more than $16.5 million. The legislature allocates state money, but others point out that those contracts are competitively bid. We also know that Century Coverage has been making contributions to NYC political candidates at least as far back as the Giuliani Administration, and those donations are spread liberally across party lines. It does appear as though the company gave heavily to Brooklyn candidates connected to Vito Lopez.
When it comes to member items, the Metropolitan Council received far more from the New York City Council than the State Legislature. Then again, member items at the state level were ( mostly ) eliminated under Governor Cuomo. The bottom line here is this: something doesn’t smell right. One ally of Rapfogel told me that the leak of this investigation is “wrong.” Everyone else who seemed to know Rapfogel well readily expressed some form of “shock” to describe what they were feeling after hearing about the alleged scheme.
How deep does this go? It’s hard to say. The authorities might have had a better chance of flipping Rapfogel had they arrested him before this became public. In that case, they may have been able to accumulate evidence demonstrating complicity between Rapfogel and his allies in government. But this is only a hypothetical scenario, since we don’t know if there is even enough evidence to make an arrest. It’s a little strange frankly, that we know so much about this and the man at the center has already apologized and no one is in cuffs. All of that spells money being returned and slaps on wrists as one man takes the fall. More often than not it’s the feds who use RICO statutes to go after wider conspiracies involving government corruption. But this time it’s the AG and the Comptroller both of whom have ties to the Democratic establishment.
No matter what ends up happening, these are definitely more headlines Speaker Silver does not need. It was almost a year ago that we first learned about the Vito Lopez matter via press release. It’s probably fair to say it has been a rocky 12 months for the Speaker.
**Author’s Note** the title is a play on the Queen song Bohemian Rhapsody, which is as catchy as it is ridiculous ( even by 1970′s standards, and A LOT of ridiculous things happened in the 70s ). The song did decently when it was released in America, but really had its revival when it was used in 1992′s “Wayne’s World.” My theory is that people liked this song, but were embarrassed to admit it ( for obvious reasons ), then took advantage of the free pass they were given to like it openly once it appeared in a movie that was funny. That way, they didn’t really have to say they liked the song, instead they enjoyed it with a wink and a nod and a slacker’s detached sense of irony.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Zack Fink on August 13, 2013 at 4:48 pm, and is filed under Uncategorized. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|