New York's Corrupt Politics in a Nutshell

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On Wednesday afternoon, HuffPost ran a story about a woman named Erica Vladimer, who accused New York state Senator Jeff Klein of having once “shoved his tongue” down her throat at a bar. Vladimer, a former staffer for Klein, said that the incident happened in 2015, and that she left her job in politics a month later.


Klein is the leader of the Independent Democratic Conference, a group of eight breakaway Democratic senators who caucus with Republicans in the New York Senate, effectively giving the latter party a majority. Because of this setup, Klein is a notorious figure among progressives in the state, and a number of progressive policies—some as anodyne as updating New York abortion laws, which pre-date Roe v. Wade—have been stymied.

Also being stymied is an investigation into the new sexual harassment allegations against Klein. In fact, Republican state Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan announced that there would be no investigation at all. “I know Senator Klein to be a good and decent person who treats others with respect,” Flanagan wrote.

The GOP gets to decide whether the investigation goes forward or not because they control the State Senate. They control the Senate because of Klein’s IDC, as well as Governor Andrew Cuomo’s persistent inaction in getting IDC members back into the Democratic fold. It is considered a “well-known secret” among New York political insiders that Cuomo played a large role in propping up the IDC (something the governor has always denied), which serves his political purposes.

Because the government is divided, Cuomo can always blame it for lack of progress on Democratic policies. Take the fact that he has called for an investigation into Klein. He gets to voice his support for doing the right thing, while the GOP majority that he empowers ensures that nothing will be done. It’s New York’s corrupt political paradox in a nutshell.

Clio Chang is a staff writer at Splinter.