Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tom Robbins Gives the "Gang of Three" the Business

BoogieDowner's favorite Village Voice reporter, Tom Robbins, is at it again.

In Mr. Robbins' most recent piece, "How the 'Gang of Three' Ties Up Senate Dems," he tears into the shady pasts of each of the so-called "Gang of Three." Beyond basically painting the "Gang" as political extortionists, Robbins lays bare the insanity that is each of these politicians' past misdeeds.

BoogieDowner will reproduce the choicest excerpts dealing with our neighbor, Pedro Espada, Jr., but you really should read the whole piece for nuggets like the fact that Ruben Diaz, Sr. "[i]n 1997, [Diaz] insisted that gays be barred from entering the city to participate in a series of sporting events because they were likely to spread AIDS."

Here's the juicy Espada parts (nothing too new here, except for the personal wire-wearing in 1998):

"Pedro Espada Jr., 54, is a peppery ex-boxer who has been giving the Bronx Democratic organization conniptions for years. In 1998, while facing charges of steering money from a large health clinic he runs into his political campaigns, Espada wore his own secret listening device to meetings with top Democratic officials. One meeting caught then party boss Roberto Ramirez suggesting that Espada's legal troubles would go away if he withdrew from politics. "If you sit out, there's peace in the valley," Ramirez was heard saying.

Espada beat that case at trial. But a few years later, three of his top aides pleaded guilty to state charges of having diverted $30,000 in clinic funds into his campaigns, while another went to prison for perjury. The money had been intended to help poor families and patients suffering from AIDS.

In an earlier stint in the senate, Espada cut a deal to vote with former Republican majority leader Joe Bruno. In exchange, he was allotted $2 million in grant money to dispense, $745,000 of which he promptly routed to his own health clinics. The grants were only pulled back after the Times exposed them. There are also record-keeping concerns: Espada failed to make any of the required campaign filings this year. He blames a young campaign treasurer. "Every single expenditure is known to the Board of Elections," he says. The board still fined him $60,000." [Tom Robbins, Village Voice]

Thank you, Mr. Robbins!

*picture of shocked Pedro Espada courtesy of http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/espadashocked.jpg*


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