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30 Years Wasted

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After a legislative career that spanned more than 30 years, state Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio has resigned. It is a sad moment for Seminerio, his family and his constituents who re-elected him time and time again. Seminerio admitted in federal court he pocketed more than $1 million in consulting fees by promising hospitals, nonprofits and others inside access in Albany.

After admitting his guilt in court, Seminerio’s attorney said, “Mr. Seminerio regrets the pain he has caused his family, colleagues and former constituents, whom he served for more than three decades.”

The assemblyman’s downfall followed the arrest and conviction of former Assemblyman Brian McLaughlin, who helped the feds bring the hammer down on Seminerio in an effort to reduce his own sentence. For much of his life, Seminerio represented the working-class families of Richmond Hill, Ozone Park, Woodhaven, Glendale, Ridgewood and Middle Village. He told Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver it has been his honor and privilege to have served in the Legislature.

Like McLaughlin, in many ways Seminerio served the interests of the people he represented well. He was ironically tough on crime, staunchly pro-life and not afraid to support a Republican or independent candidate. And like McLaughlin, he was the kind of old-fashioned politician who knew how to get things done.

Unfortunately, Seminerio could not resist the temptation to use his powerful position to enrich himself by accepting bribes from companies looking to do business with the state. It appears he created a consulting company primarily for that purpose. The cynic might see this as an indication the state government is corrupt. The chaos in Albany in recent weeks is at least proof the government is fundamentally flawed.

But there is also in his prosecution the evidence that those charged with battling political corruption in Albany are not afraid to take on powerful figures like Seminerio and McLaughlin, no matter how popular they may be.

No one should take enjoyment in the thought Seminerio may spend the better part of the rest of his life behind bars. This is a sad day for the assemblyman, his family and his district.

Posted 6:32 pm, October 10, 2011
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