Another year, another reminder of the disgraceful way New York seats judges, but this time it’s against the backdrop of a high-profile congressional election.
New York’s corrupt system is specifically designed to take judicial elections out of the hands of voters, who are left merely to ratify the decisions made by party bosses. One of those bosses is Erie County’s Nicholas Langworthy, head of the state Republican Party and one of two candidates vying in Tuesday’s primary for the GOP nomination in the newly reconfigured 23rd Congressional District. The other is Carl Paladino, who once again put his foot in his mouth.
What Langworthy is doing – or allowing to be done – is not illegal. The system was challenged but ultimately, though regretfully, affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court. That doesn’t make it worthy of a democracy.
The path to a judicial post in New York is typically marked by donations to political bosses – Democratic and Republican – who frequently cross-endorse candidates, ensuring their jointly blessed choices are shoo-ins. The role of voters is dishonored and disrespected.
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That corruption usually occurs at the county level, but the effect is amplified this year as Langworthy – once Erie County’s Republican chairman, now the state party’s boss – gathers donations for his congressional campaign.
It’s no surprise, then, that Republican judicial candidates Kelly A. Vacco, Gerald J. Greenan III and Joseph C. Lorigo all won nominations in this month’s GOP convention – controlled by Langworthy – after they or their families contributed to the boss’ congressional campaign. Vacco and Greenan are assured of winning in November.
One example: Vacco’s family, including former Republican State Attorney General Dennis Vacco, legally donated at least $6,900 to Langworthy’s campaign while the former attorney general also gave to the Erie County GOP. The candidate, herself, gave Langworthy’s congressional campaign another $2,900 – more than a sitting judge is allowed to donate. She later asked that the money be refunded, her husband said.
The system amounts to legalized bribery. The bosses of both parties defend it, and you can see why. But it stinks and the smell clings to the robes of the winners.
Paladino, meanwhile – not to be outdone in shabbiness – told a radio interviewer that U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland “probably should be executed” for doing his job.
The issue was Garland’s acknowledged role in approving the request for a warrant to search the Florida home of former President Donald Trump. Agents took away five sets of top secret documents, three sets of secret documents and three sets of confidential documents.
He later said – though only after the host asked about it – that he was just being “facetious” and that Garland should be removed from office rather than executed. But the point was made. Paladino showed his colors – again.
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