Some State Lawmakers Disappointed to See Preet Bharara Go
The eight years of Preet Bharara's tenure as U.S. attorney changed Albany, ousting lawmakers convicted of corruption and peeling back the unsavory workings of state government.
"Probably no one in the past generation has had as much an impact on the way Albany does its business than Preet Bharara," said NYPIRG Legislative Director Blair Horner.
Bharara on Saturday said he was fired by the Trump administration as the Justice Department removed the final 46 Obama-era federal prosecutors. But Bharara's departure was national news in part for the prominent, headline-generating post he held, targeting Albany dealmakers like Dean Skelos and Sheldon Silver, shaking the Capitol to its core in the process.
"I think he has had a really significant impact in the sense he has surfaced the real problems that we have," said Common Cause Executive Director Susan Lerner.
In Albany on Monday, some state lawmakers were disappointed to see Bharara go.
"He is right now in the midst of a really important investigation in Buffalo, with the Buffalo Billion, and I would love to have seen him follow through on that," said Assemblyman Mickey Kearns (D - Buffalo).
Others, however, were skeptical he would be able to transition from running the Southern District to becoming an elected politician as has been speculated. Bharara has denied an interesting in becoming an elected official.
"It's a separate thing being a public servant in terms of doing budgets and constituent work. I think he's great at what he does," said Senator Jim Tedisco (R - Clifton Park). "He'd probably make a great judge. I'm not sure he'd make a great governor."
Speaker Carl Heastie, who ascended to the post after Bharara's office charged his predecessor with corruption, only shrugged when asked if the former prosecutor may consider running for governor.
"I wish him luck in his next endeavor," Heastie said.
And while some lawmakers are fans of Bharara for his efforts to investigate Democrats like Governor Andrew Cuomo, they understood why he was removed.
"I wanted him to stay because I was a fan of what he was doing," said Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin (R - Melrose). "That being said, I fullly support the president's prerogative in cleaning house, which I think every president does."
And it remains unclear who President Donald Trump will nominate to permanently replace Bharara, though that office has historically focused on a range of issues, including violent and organized crime.