David Paterson has a message for the now exonerated Joseph Bruno: you always have a friend in me.
Mr. Paterson, the ex-governor and new chair of the State Democratic Party, lamented the treatment of Mr. Bruno, a former State Senate majority leader, in a radio interview yesterday. The high-ranking Democrat had only kind words for the once powerful Republican, who was recently found not guilty in a corruption trial.
“I remember an incident which I so regret and it happened in 2008 and it was when Senator Joe Bruno was going to resign because he was being investigated for a number of issues,” Mr. Paterson told host and former GOP mayoral contender John Catsimatidis on his radio show.
“He resigns and I went to his office and he was really pretty upset he had to do this, it was a kind of tearful moment, and I go back to my office in the governor’s office and I look up and my state party blasts him! I mean, talking about kicking a man when he’s down, a man who had given 30 years to public service and now we realize was never convicted of anything in the end,” he said.
Mr. Bruno has battled corruption charges since leaving the senate in 2008. He was originally convicted on two counts in 2009, but a State Supreme Court ruling overturned the conviction when it narrowed the honest services statute under which he had been charged.
Federal prosecutors pushed forward with a new trial, however, and the 85-year-old Mr. Bruno was eventually found not guilty this month on federal fraud charges related to allegations that the Republican had solicited and accepted illegitimate consulting fees from an Albany-area businessman.
Mr. Paterson, who once enjoyed a very close relationship with Mr. Bruno that made some Democrats uneasy, fumed about the “trumped up” charges and the power prosecutors wield in the American legal system.
“Unfortunately, we have inspector generals in almost every avenue of service, even governors can be or presidents can be reviewed but the one agency that’s never reviewed–and inevitably the most abusive–is prosecutors,” Mr. Paterson charged. “I realized that you have people–nothing could ever happen to them, they could do anything and they were absolutely outrageous the way they went over the line.”