Ongoing investigations into current criminal cases against the most influential of New York’s elected officials seem to indicate that yet once again the age old concept of nepotism has reared its ugly head.
Prosecutors allege that the former New York State Senate majority leader Dean Skelos, along with his deputy Thomas Libous, both garnered lucrative positions for their sons in exchange for a litany of favors being rendered.
According to prosecutors, Matthew Libous and Adam Skelos both exhibited less than professional behavior in their cushy new jobs. They say that while imbibing alcoholic the younger Libous propositioned his new boss’ wife. Adam Skelos made it quite clear to his employers that he was not obligated to even come to work — and even threatened bodily harm to his superiors.
Jim Cohen, professor of legal ethics at Fordham University Law School said, “It’s like a Shakespearean reference, the ungrateful children. I think there’s substantial doubt these two could have done this on their own and that’s why their fathers intervened.”
Federal authorities corroborated that hypothesis and agreed that the offspring needed assistance from their powerful dads into order to climb the ladder of professional success.
Adam Skelos “has been dependent on his father for financial support” since at least 2010, according to a criminal complaint. His father focused on his son’s monetary problems when guiding him towards jobs that he was totally not qualified for and ones in which he had no experience; all in exchange for influence on a governmental level.
Prosecutors argue that Matthew Libous, a lawyer, would not have received a salary of $60,000 more than other attorneys at the White Plains law firm he worked at, had it not been for his father’s influence peddling and promises that he would be sending a significant amount of business to the firm.
In the closing argument at Thomas Libous’ trial, Assistant US Attorney James McMahon asked jurors, “Why would you hire anyone who got drunk at the holiday party and propositioned the senior partner’s wife?”
Last Wednesday Thomas Libous was convicted of lying to FBI investigators about the role he played in securing the $150,000 job for his son. On separate charges, his son Matthew was convicted of tax crimes while denying his salacious behavior towards his boss’ wife. Subsequent to his conviction, the elder Libous, who is a Republican from the Binghamton area, lost his Senate seat.
Both Dean and Adam Skelos have pled not guilty to extortion, bribery and other charges in the case that is pending against them. The elder Skelos is a Republican from Long Island.
Lawyers representing both of the Skeloses have said that the case against their clients is “politically motivated” and a website has been created to collect public donations for their defense fund. They also says that “It’s wrong to criminalize the relationship between a father and son.”
Prosecutors say in an expanded indictment filed last week that Adam Skelos received a salary of $78,000 with a malpractice insurance company that was engaged in lobbying for his father.
New York is no stranger to the deleterious effects of patronage and has a dubious history in this regard. For long periods in the 19th and 20th centuries, the political organization known as Tammany Hall kept a grip on patronage by closely aligning with the Democratic party and catering to the quickly multiplying immigrant population, especially the Irish. It was a major source of jobs that did not weaken until Mayor Fiorello La Guardia took office in 1934, according to historical records.
Political experts noted that powerful fathers get jobs for their children all the time in the private sector but the difference in political patronage situations is that if things don’t work out, firings are rare.