While members of the Assembly are within their right to fight for items for their districts in the budget, taking bribes for yourself is a serious no-no. The audacity of ex-Assemblywoman Gordon (D-East New York) is quite astonishing in how she tried to enrich herself while throwing out the trust of her constituents. Thankfully however for the people, she is now out of a job.
From The Gothamist:
A four-time State Assembly member representing East New York in Brooklyn was convicted of third-degree bribe-receiving and official misconduct yesterday. When a developer was interested in acquiring city land back in 2004 and 2005, Assemblywoman Diane Gordon asked for a home in a Queens gated community, worth $500,000.
When the Brooklyn DA's office discovered evidence of bribe taking, they offered her a deal that would have let her off if she quit. But she ran for reelection, prompting the DA's office to indict Gordon and release a surveillance video of her appearing to take a bribe. The developer, Ranjan Batheja, agreed to cooperate with investigators when he tried to bribe an undercover investigator, and on the video, Gordon said, "We got to do something with this land .. so I can get me a home now." Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes said, "It is especially appalling [that Gordon] did not want her house built in her own assembly district."
Gordon was acquitted of the most serious charge--second-degree bribe-taking--and could face up to ten years in jail, but her lawyer said, "We're going to do our best to see that the sentence is one of probation or less." Assembly Leader Sheldon Silver told the NY Times, "This is an unfortunate situation, and my heart goes out to Ms. Gordon’s family. However, this has been proved to be a breach of the public trust.” She is officially out of the Assembly and her seat in the 40th district will remain vacant until fall--which is when City Councilman Charles Barron's wife may run for it.
You would think that once you were caught red-handed and offered a sweetheart deal that a sane person would take. Apparently Gordon did not fit that bill and her hubris took over all mental faculties. She is extremely lucky that she will not do any time for this blatant breach of public trust, even though she should be. Sheldon Silver's comments were mostly appropriate, but of course he conveniently leaves out the fact that the culture of corruption in Albany is what helps foster this criminality.