New York’s political scene was rocked this week when a GOP consultant was charged with stealing $1.1 million from Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The indictment of John Haggerty Jr. by the Manhattan District Attorney is a political prosecution by a rookie prosecutor and out of control Assistant DA who is a former federal prosecutor, and is bunk. John Haggerty maybe a stoic but he is known among Republicans and Democrats alike as man of integrity and goodwill.
That DA Cyrus Vance Jr. doesn’t understand the legal ways of politics would be an understatement. Haggerty skillfully saved Mayor Michael Bloomberg between $15 million and $20 million for a costly Republican Primary for Mayor after Bloomberg snubbed Republican leaders for four years before becoming an Independent. Haggerty bought all five County Chairmen together and snuffed a Primary by former City Council Minority Leader Tom Ognibene. Haggerty did so with skill and diplomacy but without remuneration.
Haggerty’s contract very clearly affords him the latitude to spend the funds entrusted to him by the Independence Party at his discretion. This most certainly includes his compensation. If Haggerty did take $500,000 and achieved the mayor’s goals in terms of get-out-the-vote activities in white neighborhoods – a key ingredient in Bloomberg’s surprise narrow victory- it would make Haggerty among the lowest paid Bloomberg intimates.
What of Independence Party boss Frank McKay, the diamond stud earring wearing ex-bartender and his crony Monroe Independence Party Chairman Tom Connelly who has a “job” with Democrat Senator Carl Kruger? How much of the money went into their pockets? As “Party Leaders” they can legally pay themselves a salary and expenses. Both have wisely declined to speak with prosecutors. Vance is off base if he thinks any of this is illegal.
Most likely the drama over John Haggerty is in fact a holdover from Mayor Bloomberg’s squabble with former Manhattan DA Robert Morgenthau, as Vance is a Morgenthau protégé.
The New York Post’s Jennifer Femino calls Haggerty a “weirdo.” Not so. Haggerty is the son of legendary Republican strategist and lawyer John “Jack” Haggerty Sr., longtime powerbroker behind the New York Republican Senate Majority. John Jr. carries his father’s code of ethics; discretion, legality and honor. Haggerty is know for an even disposition, “old-school” manners and a word as good as gold, rare among political consultants.
The prosecutors added money laundering and grand theft as charges simply because Haggerty refused to plead guilty to a State election law violation if it was a felony. Haggerty also declined to “roll” on Bloomberg campaign and Mayor’s Office higher-ups, further infuriating the Assistant DA prosecuting the case.
The District Attorney’s conflicts in the case are many. Watch this space for updates.
Roscoe Conkling is the pen name of a connected Albany insider who would rather remain anonymous.