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Majority: Firing hurts corruption fight

This month President Donald Trump fired Preet Bharara as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York after the prosecutor reportedly declined to resign. Trump had asked for the resignation of the 46 remaining holdover prosecutors from former President Barack Obama’s administration. Such a request is not unusual when a new administration takes office.
 
Bharara, one of the most prominent federal prosecutors in the nation, oversaw successful prosecutions of high-profile New York politicians, including Dean Skelos, majority leader of the State Senate, and longtime Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Both have appealed the convictions.
 
Bharara’s prosecutors also have been preparing to try a group of former aides and associates of Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a bribery and bid-rigging case.
 
During his tenure, Bharara indicted 17 prominent New York politicians for malfeasance, including 10 Democrats. Bharara also developed a reputation for being tough on insider trading, although he was criticized for the lack of prosecutions that followed the financial crisis, the Washington Post reported.
 
Roughly 67 percent of respondents to this week’s RBJ Snap Poll expect his departure to hurt efforts to reduce corruption in New York. Some 27 percent of respondents expect the move to have no impact on the effort to reduce corruption in New York. Just 6 percent expect it to improve the fight against corruption in the state.
 
Nearly 550 readers participated in this week’s Snap Poll, which was conducted March 21.
 
Will the firing of Preet Bharara as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York have an impact on corruption in New York?
 
It will hurt efforts to reduce corruption in New York. 67%
It will have no impact on the effort to reduce corruption in New York. 27%
It will improve efforts to reduce corruption in New York. 6%
 
Comments
Let’s face it, Preet Bharara was making our crooked politicians in Albany nervous, and I am sure he won’t be missed by them. As said numerous times before, the only way to “fix” this is for our crooked politicians to adopt real ethics reform, something they show no commitment to doing.
—Rob Ewanow
 
How disappointing that arrogant Trump chose to remove a very effective prosecutor from his office. I suspect the president has too many friends whose behavior might make them a target of Bharara’s efforts.
—Dorver Kendig, Webster
 
Considering it was corruption that precipitated his firing in the first place, then of course it will have an impact.
—Joanne Greene-Blose
 
Politics once again shows its ugly head. Of all the brainless decisions, this one takes the cake. Why would anybody lose such a productive, effective colleague is more than I’ll ever understand! I can see why N.Y. officials would want him out, but the feds? Pure hypocrisy!
—JA DePaolis, Penfield
 
When I heard that Trump had broken the commitment he made in person to Bharara, I had two thoughts: Why did we expect Trump to keep his word this time after showing himself to be faithless so many times before? And which of Trump’s cronies was under investigation by Bharara and called in a favor to try to avoid indictment?
— James Leunk
 
I am sure the newly appointed U.S. attorney will be as vigilant on corruption as Preet Bharara has been.
— John Costello
 
Maybe I’m missing something here, but since most of Bharara’s most prominent cases exposed the corruption of Democrats, this action of Trump’s seems to be shooting his own party in the foot.
—Ken Maher
 
Bharara was brilliant and worked for the people. I can only imagine what Roger Ailes’s attorney is going to do for us “little people.” Personally, I am waiting for charges of “collusion with the enemy” and treason to crash down on Trump and his crony swamp dwellers.
— Eve Elzenga, Eve Elzenga Design
 
I suspect Bharara of bias in his prosecution cases. Therefore, I expect the corruption to go down at the judicial level. One very suspicious case that comes to mind is the prosecution and sentencing of Dinesh D’Souza.
—Dave Fister
 
Woo hoo! Cuomo must still be giddy over Bharara’s firing! He and his remaining corrupt cronies will have free reign to plunder as they please now that Bharara won’t be around to target the shenanigans! Sadly, there’s now no one to impede the path of the next shyster who will grace us as president of this great land. And don’t kid yourselves folks, this next one is far more devious and manipulative than the current one.
— D. Cooper
 
Mr. Bharara did a fine job while serving in N.Y. and deserves much credit. There is still so much more to be done here in N.Y., and every president gets to make those appointments. That’s nothing new. Let’s hope the next U.S. attorney appointed by the Trump administration is even more aggressive! Corruption and its culture usually starts at the highest levels.
— George Thomas, Ogden
 
No one really knows the answer to the question. We don’t know how close he was to getting Cuomo and what emphasis his successor might place on continuing the work. Perhaps a fresh set of eyes on the subject would be helpful.
—Jim Cronin
 
I happen to believe that if Mr. Bharara had resigned, as requested, he would have left the door open to being rehired and reinstated. But by refusing to resign, and forcing the administration to fire him, he has removed any possibility of returning to his U.S. attorney position. Too bad. He appears to be a capable and qualified candidate.
— Tom Shea, Thomas P. Shea Agency Inc. 

3/24/2017 (c) 2017 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.

 
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