The arrest of Queens Senator Malcolm Smith is already causing political fallout in the state Legislature, as the senate's Independent Democratic Conference has stripped Smith of his committee assignments and leadership positions. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
In the last five years, state Senator Malcolm Smith has twice found himself at the center of power in the state Senate. In both cases, it ended badly.
First, it was Smith as majority leader when Democrats captured the chamber in 2009, a reign that concluded with a now infamous leadership coup.
More recently, Smith joined the breakaway Independent Democratic Conference, or IDC, who formed a coalition government with Republicans. It was an arrangement that denied Democrats a governing majority, even though they won more seats in the last election.
But after Smith's arrest Tuesday morning, his status in Albany quickly changed once again.
IDC leader Jeff Klein issued a statement, saying, "As a result of these charges, I have made the decision to strip Senator Smith of his committee assignments and of his conference leadership position. I believe that Senator Smith should seriously consider whether or not he can continue to effectively serve his constituents."
"I don't know if there's a particular problem in the New York State Senate," said Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. "From what I understand in the papers, not every state legislature has this degree of criminality that's been exposed. So clearly, there is some problem here."
Critics say it's the influence of money in politics.
"When you read some of the quotes from the indictment, when you listen to the U.S. Attorney talking about this, it's all about the money chase," said Susan Lerner of Common Cause New York. "We have to change that."
The criminal complaint also makes reference to fellow Independent Democrat David Carlucci, who Smith allegedly mentions in a wiretap.
"The state senator that is referred to, but not by name, there's no evidence at all of any misdeeds on the part of that person," Bharara said.
Even though Carlucci is not implicated, Smith's very presence in the IDC is now viewed by some as corrosive.
Senator Carlucci issued a statement that said he is "shocked" and "outraged" by the alleged misconduct.
Smith's arrest also brought statements of condemnation from Republican leader Dean Skelos and Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who called the allegations "deeply disturbing."