The only thing worse than the non-stop Breaking Bad fellatio going down on Facebook is the omnipresent wah wah government shutdown stuff. I’m sure you’re sick of it too, and anything else that reminds you that our elected officials are petty fuckups and not the stewards of our economic survival we kinda sorta need right now. So I apologize in advance for this story about an official from a town in Saratoga New York who is being investigated for allegedly taking bribes and kickbacks for political favor. What makes it interesting to us is that one of these unscrupulous interactions may have involved the effort to get MMA legalized in New York.
A federal criminal investigation of Halfmoon Supervisor Melinda A. Wormuth is probing whether she secretly accepted money for lobbying on behalf of mixed martial arts legislation and whether she or her family received thousands of dollars from a builder with business before the town government.
The information comes from multiple people familiar with the case. They said the FBI is focusing on Wormuth’s contact with two Republican state lawmakers — Sen. Kathleen Marchione and Assemblyman James Tedisco — related to a bill that passed the Senate but failed in the Assembly and would have legalized mixed martial arts fighting.
In early May, Wormuth, 46, wrote letters on town letterhead to both Tedisco and Marchione stating she “strongly urge(s) you to support MMA legislation.”
“Some of my constituents are fans and promoters of MMA and have to travel outside the town of Halfmoon to promote or watch the sport they love,” Wormuth wrote.
Sources close to the case said Wormuth’s peculiar and sudden support of the MMA is at the heart of the federal investigation.
Is it, Times Union? Is it really? Because two weeks ago, it seemed like the FBI’s focus on Wormuth was over all those sketchy kickbacks she was taking from developers looking to build in Halfmoon. For example…
The U.S. Attorney’s office also has used subpoenas to examine banking records relating to a transaction several years ago in which Wormuth’s husband, Larry, who owns a small used-car dealership in Halfmoon, allegedly took thousands of dollars from Bruce Tanski, a Halfmoon developer whose projects have been voted on by Wormuth, sources briefed on the investigation said.
In 2011, the Times Union published a story about the Wormuths’ sale of two small homes they owned on Route 146 to Scott Earl, a wealthy stockholder in a waste-hauling company that was vying to buy the Saratoga County landfill. Shortly after the story was published, Wormuth stepped down as chairwoman of the county public works committee that was tasked with coordinating the sale of the landfill.
Wormuth denied any impropriety in the sales. An appraiser retained by the Times Union analyzed the purchases and said Earl paid nearly twice the appraised value for the homes.
The Wormuths still reside in one of the residences they sold to Earl. Saratoga County District Attorney James A. Murphy III previously said he did not believe there was anything improper involving Earl’s purchase of the properties.
This MMA thing sure could be an extra interesting wrinkle in the entire affair. The UFC, Madison Square Garden, and other interested parties have had lobbying groups pumping New York politicians harder than the gun lobby pumps Capitol Hill after a mass shooting. Everyone has been very straight up in declaring the millions of dollars being spent trying to ‘change the minds’ of politicians so they unban MMA in the state.
So was some of this money distributed through less than legit channels? What potentially innocent but probably quite shady looking transaction took place right before Wormuth started singing songs in praise of the noble UFC fighters? Will this give us a bigger glimpse into the political sausage making process that led to 64 New York assembly members declaring their support for legalizing mixed martial arts in writing? And will we have more answers by the next post so everything I write doesn’t end in question marks?