New York state senator Shirley Huntley was hit with felony charges today after prosecutors accused her of funneling about $30,000 meant for a nonprofit to her niece and an aide.
She also faked a letter to convince investigators that the group, Parent Workshop Inc., had in fact assisted parents, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said to reporters this afternoon.
“This was a sham,” he said.
Schneiderman said as far as he knew, it was the first time an attorney general brought charges against a sitting lawmaker.
“I want my day in court,” Huntley said at a Saturday press conference in Queens.
David Birsdsell, dean of Baruch College’s School of Public Affairs, called the charges "a black eye" for the legislature.
But Huntley, who faces up to four years behind bars, is just the latest politician to be accused of breaking the public’s trust.
This time last summer, Rep. Anthony Weiner had stepped down after he admitted texting sexually explicit pictures to several different women.
Just last Friday, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver sent a letter to Brooklyn Assemblyman Vito Lopez, demanding he should step down after an Assembly committee found accusations of sexual harassment credible.
But Birdsell cautioned that instances like Weiner’s – undesirable public behavior but not breaking the law or harassing anyone – are very different from situations like the Lopez accusations, alleging completely different charges of abuse of power.
Schneiderman, when asked about other politicians behaving badly, attributed the surfacing bad behavior to more prosecutors targeting corruption.