“Power Broker.” “Judge-Maker.” Those are the words the New York Times use to describe Stanely Schlein in a recent article that raises questions about Schlein’s involvement in a real estate development deal in the Bronx.
According to the Times, 17 years ago Schlein told the City that he’d develop the site, and the City awarded him and his partners that right without any competitive bidding, much less any questions as to his qualifications as a developer. In the intervening years, the City either turned away other developers or referred them to Schlein as the rights-owner with whom they’d have to negotiate. Now, after all that time, Schlein stands to make an unspecified “bundle” as a real development company that partnered with him is about to break ground on the project.
So, who is Stanley Schlein? Well, let’s just say that he’s one of those highly-connected insider-lawyers who make a handsome living by greasing the skids of NYC politics — i.e., lobbying and lawyering for NY Pols and those who need access to those Pols to get approval for City contracts.
How did he get so connected? Easy, he made his name in Bronx politics as an election law lawyer who guided the party favorites onto ballots while making life extremely difficult for challengers on election law technicalities. In other words, he helped get a lot of judges and politicians get and stay in elected office. In turn, they awarded him with lots of patronage gigs (like court-appointed legal guardianships) and his clients with City contracts.
In July 2005, the New York Times ran this profile of Schlein, pointing out his myriad political connections to such NY luminaries as George Steinbrenner, Al Sharpton, Mayor Bloomberg, former Bronx Democratic Bosses Stanley Friedman and Patrick J. Cunningham, as well as former Mayors David Dinkins and Rudy Giuliani.
Mayor Koch first appointed Schlein to serve on the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board, and every mayor up to Bloomberg reappointed him. Then, the Times’ latest piece reports:
A few years back, the city Conflicts of Interest Board fined Mr. Schlein $15,000 for using his city office as a de facto law office, making more than 2,000 phone calls related to his private business. Mr. Schlein resigned in 2006.
Mr. Schlein also served as a court-appointed fiduciary, a lucrative billet open to loyal Democratic Party worthies. That too ended badly. In 2006, the Office of Court Administration barred him from taking new assignments, as he had apparently badly handled the finances of the infirm and the elderly.
Here a few other past articles for those interested in digging further:
- No-bid deal could enrich political fixer, Mott Haven Herald (Aug. 23, 2012)
- Witness Says Councilman Led Him to a Contractor, New York Times (Nov. 15, 2011)
- Why is Eric Schneiderman Using Pedro Espada’s Political Fixer? Village Voice (July 11, 2010)
- Maria Baez “Goes Ghetto” on Election Power Lawyer Stanley Schlein, New York Daily News (Aug. 11, 2008)
- Bronx Democrats Face Internal Crisis, New York Times (Sept. 18, 2008)
- Stanley Schlein Rides Again, Village Voice (Dec. 24, 2008)
- The Bronx Bomber, Village Voice (Apr. 25, 2006)
- Recent Allies Pedro Espada, Stanley Schlein, had Fistfight, New York Daily News (June 21, 2009)
- Powerhouse Political Operative if Fined for Improper Practices, New York Sun (Jan. 24, 2008)
- Back-Room Bench: Politics and the Courts, a Bronx Judiciary Awash in Patronage, All Legal, New York Times (Jan. 4, 2004)
- Bronx Ballot: An Insurgent’s Odyssey, New York Times (Oct. 18, 1990)