Saturday, May 16, 2009

McLaughlin Sentencing Stirs Up Political Storm by Joseph Orovic - Queens Tribune

Read original...

Disgraced Assemblyman Brian McLaughlin is expected to finally face sentencing for pleading guilty to corruption charges on Thursday. The former labor boss and seven-term democratic Assemblyman faces up to 10 years in prison. But as is common in this political circus, the day approaches with a sideshow.

A group of union leaders, family members and friends submitted letters to Judge Richard Sullivan for consideration during sentencing. The submissions come from people as wide-ranging as McLaughlin’s Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor to State Senator Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose).

The Senate Republican’s letter in particular sparked a brouhaha, as the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee pounced at the opportunity to lambaste Padavan’s submission.

The letter itself is rather innocuous, simply stating Padavan’s relationship to McLaughlin as a former coworker and calls him “a dedicated community servant, an active member of his parish and a loving father.”

Padavan said he rarely writes such letters, and was prompted to do so when members of McLaughlin’s family contacted his district office.

He called the DSCC’s work a “political hatchet job” and “low level politics.”

“[The DSCC are] a bunch of lying bastards. And I’ll tell the Majority Leader when I see him. And this guy, what’s his name, Shams [Tarek, DNCC Spokesman]? He’s going to rue the day he runs into me.”

Before taking his position with the DSCC, Tarek was the communications director for Councilman Jim Gennaro, who challenged Padavan in a hotly contested race for Senate last year that was not resolved until after this year’s session began.

Tarek responded to Padavan’s criticism. “As vague as the language may appear to be, the fact that he wrote the letter means that he’s looking for leniency [for McLaughlin],” Tarek said. “This letter is a favor to Brian McLaughlin. It’s seeking favor from the judge. Long time Democratic party allies didn’t write a letter.

“The facts speak for themselves and I hope for his sake that Senator Padavan is not threatening me.”

Political circus aside, the 56-year-old McLaughlin pleaded guilty to a slew of charges, including stealing $2.2 million in cash, getting free cars and taking money from a Little League Baseball organization that had been funded by his own legislative member item funds.

The judge may also have to factor in McLaughlin’s cooperation with investigators into Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio’s (D-Richmond Hill) own corruption charges as well as McLaughlin’s cooperation in a case pending against Petrocelli Electric Company in Long Island City.