It looks like our congressman, incumbent Republican Sherwood Boehlert, may soon be joining the likes of Randy Cunningham, Bob Ney, and Tom DeLay - as a suspect in a rapidly spreading corruption probe.
This corruption scandal does not have a direct connection to Jack Abramoff - yet. In this case, the corrupt lobbyist under investigation is Walter Rich, a railroad boss who is under investigation by the by the New York State lobbying commission on possible corruption charges.
The commission has asked Rich to turn over records of who stayed and ate at his mansion and in other lodgings he arranged around Cooperstown during a Baseball Hall of Fame event, and got free tickets to local events. It is against New York State law for lobbyists to give public officials gifts of over 75 dollars in worth, as the lodgings, meals and tickets surely were. These events will likely prove to be the New York State equivalent of Jack Abramoff's golf vacations in Scotland given to public servants.
It is widely expected that Sherwood Boehlert's name will be among those who were given illegal gifts by Walter Rich. Sherwood Boehlert is among those who are known to have held fundraisers in Rich's mansion.
These allegations come at the same time that David Butler, a former railroad police chief who worked for Walter Rich, is preparing to release a new book, Railroaded in Cooperstown. Butler's book promises to reveal chronic safety violation cover-ups, corruption, and illegal political fundraising orchestrated by Rich.
It is alleged that Walter Rich required his employees to give political donations to politicians, possibly including Sherwood Boehlert. Was that kind of corruption the secret behind Sherwood Boehlert's fundraising machine?
The commission will hold a public meeting Feb. 8. Look for more information then.
Thanks to Capitol Confidential for the tip.
Republican political cannibals who are eager to profit from Sherwood Boehlert's apparently imminent downfall might want to look at the connnections their own prospective candidates. State Senator James Seward, who has been named as a possible Republican successor to Sherwood Boehlert, is also named in David Butler's book, and may soon become the subject of a corruption probe himself.