Preet Bharara Says ‘Unfortunate Percentage’ of Albany Politicians Are Corrupt

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images) (Photo: Spencer Platt for Getty Images)

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, appearing in a rare television interview that will air today and tomorrow on MSNBC, said an “unfortunate percentage” of pols in the state legislature are corrupt.

Ari Melber, an MSNBC host, quoted one former assemblyman Mr. Bharara successfully prosecuted, Eric Stevenson, telling federal investigators, “Bottom line, if half the people up here in Albany were ever caught for what they’re doing” they’d be in jail.

“Do you agree with his estimate, half the people in Albany?” Mr. Melber asked.

“I hope it’s not half. I mean, there are a lot of people who go into public service and are in for the right reasons and to do the right thing,” Mr. Bharara said. “But it–it’s an unfortunate percentage.”

“There’s a statistic that some people cite and I cite to also, which is you are more likely to be arrested as a state senator in New York than you are to be turned out at the polls. And when you have a degree of corruption that is that deep and pervasive and frequent, that’s a big problem,” he added.

Mr. Bharara, as Mr. Melber noted in a report, also disputed Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2014 claim that he could not publicly discuss the federal review of his disbanding of the Moreland Commission. Mr. Bharara said Mr. Cuomo was not operating under any such restriction.

“I don’t think I, or anyone else, has ever said that any particular person shouldn’t be talking about how he or she made decisions publicly, no,” he said.

Mr. Bharara is currently investigating Mr. Cuomo’s role in meddling with and ultimately shutting down the Moreland Commission, an anti-corruption panel he launched with much fanfare in 2013. Mr. Bharara has successfully prosecuted lawmakers in the city and Albany and recently brought corruption charges against Assemblyman Sheldon Silver, who was forced to resign the speakership after his arrest.