By Michael Goodwin (NY Post)
June 4, 2014
In an incriminating e-mail to a sitting judge, former Brooklyn District Attorney Charles “Joe” Hynes casually dismissed a Post reporter’s request for information on a topic he regarded as trivial. He wrote: “It must be difficult to go through life being irrelevant!”
That is a fate Hynes need not fear. He instantly becomes the new poster boy for New York political corruption, thanks to an explosive report by the city’s Department of Investigation. Criminal charges against him are almost certain.
The 27-page report nails him for improperly using money seized from criminals to pay a consultant for his unsuccessful 2013 re-election campaign — and claiming the consultant was working for the DA’s office. It also details how the judge, Barry Kamins, the administrative judge for city criminal courts, routinely provided Hynes with improper political advice and engaged in secret discussions about court matters. Kamins has been relieved of his duties.
The particulars are damning, but the broader picture they paint is even more disturbing. The report depicts a total corruption of power by an old-boys network that saw itself as above the law.
This is the real-life version of “Crooklyn,” the Spike Lee film where everybody is at least a little dirty. The smell of decay has long permeated the borough’s judicial system, its politics and, not least of all, Hynes’ office. Now a big source of the stink has been revealed: Hynes himself.
Through six terms, he ran the DA’s Office like a private fiefdom. From shielding sexual-abuse convictions and ducking questions about tainted murder cases, Hynes often played by his own rules.
He was clever and aggressive, always one slippery step ahead of the damning fact. Kamins was obsequious and snarky, writing that they should invite a chubby New York Times writer to lunch with the promise that “she can have two entrees.”
The report should be required reading for anybody wanting to understand why the public distrusts government. The overall tone of cynicism from a DA, his staff, a judge and a consultant unmasks all the niceties about public service. They were so arrogant, they put it all in writing on public computers, and got caught.
As the report shows, Hynes erased all the boundaries between being a prosecutor, a pol and a crook. It was all the same thing to him — it was his personal mafia.
Imagine the outsized sense of entitlement for a prosecutor to use money he seized from criminals, many of them drug dealers, to pay $1.1 million to a political consultant. But the consultant, Morty Matz, was not advising Hynes on his office’s public relations for much of that time, as his invoices claim. Instead, Matz was a campaign adviser, meaning Hynes committed a double foul against taxpayers, and Matz joined the scam.
As for Kamins, among his advice was that Hynes stack a panel examining tainted convictions with supporters, saying it would have “the appearance of independent judgment.” That’s astonishingly cold considering that potentially innocent men were locked up.
The report examined more than 6,000 e-mails from Hynes’ official account, and found 95 percent dealt with politics. Stealing from taxpayers so he could keep the office apparently was his full-time job, and key members of his staff were also using public time to work on his campaign.
The report also noted that Hynes forwarded Kamins’ e-mails to people in and out of the office to illustrate that it was no secret that Kamins was engaging in partisan politics.
Federal prosecutors should waste no time in putting the screws to both for violating their public oaths. The report is probably just a narrow slice of their corruption, and the feds must also look to squeeze them and Matz for dirt on others in the political-judicial world.
Once and for all, it’s time to blow up the clubhouse. Ka-boom!