Wall Street-backed candidate loses race for Manhattan district attorney

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the importance of the Manhattan district attorney’s office since it overseas Wall Street and others parts of the city where some of the wealthiest people in the country work, and thus is the hub for all manner of white-collar crimes that the rich indulge in, including but not limited to, tax fraud. The current occupant is Cyrus Vance Jr., who has long been friendly to the New York elites including the Trump family but recently seems to be trying to right that balance by using a grand jury to investigate the Trump organization. Just this week, his office issued indictments of grand larceny and fraud against the Trump organization and its chief financial officer and long-time Trump confidante Allen Weisselberg.

Vance is retiring at the end of his term this year and so the race to succeed him in the Democratic primary was being closely watched since the winner was all but assured of being elected in the general election in November. Wall Street had poured its money and support behind former federal prosecutor Tali Farhadian Weinstein which immediately made her suspect. There were fears that she would be too friendly to corporate interests and even cut back on the Trump investigations.

The good news is that despite raising and spending a huge sum of money, she did not win.

Tali Farhadian Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor backed by Wall Street, has lost the Democratic primary for Manhattan district attorney to former New York state Chief Deputy Attorney General Alvin Bragg. Now the Democratic nominee, Bragg will almost certainly sweep the general election in November and serve a four-year term beginning in 2022.

As Manhattan’s top prosecutor, Bragg will oversee some of the most consequential criminal cases in the country, including the ongoing investigation into the finances of former President Donald Trump and his organization.

Weinstein’s loss comes as a win for progressives and some government reform advocates, who argued that the multimillionaire’s close ties to Wall Street presented a conflict of interest. Of the 27 donors who made contributions over $35,000 to Weinstein’s campaign, all but one were Wall Street or business leaders. Weinstein, who worked as a prosecutor in Barack Obama’s Department of Justice and is married to hedge fund executive Boaz Weinstein of Saba Capital Management, also contributed $8.2 million of her own money to her campaign in the final weeks of the race, some of which went toward ads attacking Bragg. 

Bragg’s victory marks a major win by progressives, who saw the rare opening for the Manhattan district attorney — a position only three people have been elected to in the last 79 years — as an opportunity to enact progressive reform. Bragg, a Harlem native poised to become the borough’s first Black district attorney, says that reducing mass incarceration will be his top priority. 

“We are one step closer to transforming the District Attorney’s office to deliver safety and justice for all,” Bragg said in a statement. “One that ends racial disparities and mass incarceration. One that delivers justice for sexual assault survivors. One that holds police accountable. One that prosecutes landlords who harass tenants, employers who cheat their workers, and stands up to hate crimes. And one that stops the flow of guns onto our streets.”

There is of course no guarantee that Bragg will vigorously prosecute financial crimes by the rich. But he at least shows more promise than Farhadian.


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