Friday, April 18, 2014

NYC Gay Councilman Corey Johnson's Ties to Corrupt Hotelier

There can never be too much scrutiny of elected officials, especially in America's big cities. The recent indictment against California State Senator Leland Yee on several corruption charges is a huge reminder that office-holders need constant monitoring by law enforcement agencies and good government watchdogs.

(Johnson with Hillary Clinton. Public domain photo.)

This week, I was made aware of two items related to corruption and Manhattan's District 3 representative on the City Council. First up, this news from Seth Barron at City Council Watch:

Councilmember Corey Johnson took Transition and Inauguration contributions from a hotel magnate who pled guilty yesterday to violations of federal campaign finance law.

Sant Singh Chatwal, who owns and/or manages a number of luxury Manhattan hotels, including Chelsea’s hip Dream Hotel, gave Corey Johnson’s TIE committee $2,500. Councilmember Johnson, who lives one block from the Dream, is the only Council candidate or member ever to receive a contribution from the billionaire. [...]

As I reported in City & State last month, developers associated with the Dream Hotel (including Sant Chatwal) gave Corey Johnson $15,000 towards his transition expenses; the latest revelations beg the question of whether Sant Chatwal was perpetrating a similar scheme on the local level, inducing his associates to make contributions for which they were reimbursed. [...]

I must note that there is no evidence that any of the beneficiaries of Chatwal’s machinations knew about his illegal efforts on their behalf, and one must assume the same ignorance on the part of Councilmember Johnson.  Nonetheless, it is interesting to note that during his campaign Corey Johnson assiduously steered clear of associations with real estate interests, only to accept large donations from that sector once he was elected.

Over at the NY Daily News site, is a story from February that I wasn't aware of about councilmembers and how the speakers buys their votes, literally, with cash bonues. The politicians on the wrong-side of this issue, according to the papers are "weasels". Try to act surprised that Johnson is among them:

A grand total of 10 members of the City Council have so far kept their pledges to spurn the stipends that empower the speaker to buy votes. 

It took dedication to public service for the 10 to turn back annual amounts ranging from $5,000 to $15,000, while an additional 20 members are breaking their word to constituents. 

In keeping with a long and lousy tradition, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito last month published the list of who among her 51 members would be getting so-called lulus. The Council calls the payments compensation for committee leadership, but she denied money to only four members, all of whom are on the outs with her. [...]

Four members who called for restricting lulus are pocketing the money: Corey Johnson and Ydanis Rodriguez of Manhattan, Daneek Miller of Queens and Vincent Gentile of Brooklyn.

Color me very blase about Johnson for lying and failing to keep his word to constituents. He was the Gay Inc groomed and Democratic Party politician in his November 2013 against out lesbian Yetta Kurland, and he received beaucoup amounts of donations from A-Gays who probably see nothing wrong with his double-dealing on lulus.

Expect Johnson to continue enjoying deep support from those A-Gays, while civic watchdogs keep him under the microscope.

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