Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Connecting the Dots

The local Democratic election effort has moved from party headquarters to the District Attorney's office.   As we await a fresh indictment this week or maybe next, it's time to connect the dots.

We've relied on a former downstate prosecutor for help in understanding the legal side of what's going on with the political indictments of the last month.   She's made us aware that the Democratic campaign plan for county elections, currently being executed by District Attorney Mike Green, involves more than just the charges against individuals we've seen and will see in the next week or two.

Taken together, the indictments so far and the indictment to come form a legally significant pattern:   one person in Republican headquarters, one in the Republican County administration, the one to come in Republican fundraising.   Each allegedly related to "Robutrad."

Our ex-prosecutor friend says this pattern is not mere happenstance.   It's by design.

Understanding it explains why DA Green had to go so very far out on a limb in bringing an indictment against GOP Executive Director Andrew Moore.   That's the indictment in which the conduct alleged doesn't even fit the conduct requrement of the law under which Moore was charged.   (The statute requires coercion and direct quid pro quo payback in some form.   All Moore did was write a letter as a campaign piece.)

Creating this pattern is necessary, however, as a legal requirement for the next big step in the Democratic effort to take over the County Legislature.   Next week, or the week after, will come the charge that purports to tie it all together.

Green will charge the whole Republican organization with conspiracy and racketeering, under state racketeering laws.   Or alternatively, he will have established the basis for federal authorities to bring charges under the racketeering law known as "RICO," the "Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act."

Racketeering laws like these can be invoked where a prosecutor can allege "conspiracy," which is to say, two or more engaged in allegedly criminal activity that's somehow related.   That can amount to a "pattern of racketeering" that forms the basis for the charge.   That's why Green had to create a pattern touching the three major bases:   party, administration and fundraising.

And if the authorities don't bring a criminal racketeering charge, someone working with the Democratic organization can bring a civil charge under the federal RICO law.

This next step will permit the Democratic campaign to tar with the brush of "racketeering" the entire Monroe County Republican organization, and by implication, all Republicans running for all offices.

Look for that word to appear in Democratic campaign advertising in the final weeks of the current campaign.   And look for the "racketeering" charge, either criminal or civil, a week or so after the next individual indictment.

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