A source tells NY1 that Vincent Tabone has resigned as vice chair of the Queens Republican Party, making it the first resignation from a defendant in a major corruption case involving State Senator Malcolm Smith and City Councilman Dan Halloran.
A source tells NY1 that Tabone informed the Queens party chairman that he is stepping down as vice chairman.
Tabone, seen above, is accused of accepting $25,000 in bribes in exchange for helping Smith, a Democrat, appear on the ballot for the Republican mayoral primary.
Federal prosecutors also accuse Bronx Republican Party Chairman Jay Savino of accepting bribes.
Halloran, one of four Republicans in the City Council, was allegedly promised a top city administrative job if Smith was elected mayor, and he is also accused of exchanging member item money for campaign contributions.
Smith also faces charges of steering $500,000 in state money to a real estate project in Spring Valley in Rockland County, and the village's mayor and deputy mayor are also accused of being involved in that scheme.
State Senator Daniel Squadron, whose district covers parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn, called on Smith to resign.
"He's clearly lost the public trust," Squadron said. "These are the kinds of stories you should see on House of Cards or some TV show, not in our city and state government in the year of an election."
According to his lawyer, Smith has no plans to resign and is going to enter a plea of not guilty when he is expected to be arraigned later this month.
The lawyer said there is no reason for Smith to resign.
Both Smith and Halloran were stripped of their committee assignments Tuesday following news of their arrests.
Mayoral Candidates Argue Over Practice Of Council Member Items
In the wake of the charges that Halloran illegal traded public dollars for campaign cash, mayoral candidates are now arguing over whether member items should be eliminated.
Public Advocate and Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio suggested Tuesday that his main rival, Christine Quinn, did not do enough to prevent misuse of member item money.
De Blasio said the system is ripe for abuse and he said attempts to reform it have been insufficient, failing to put a stop to what he says is a growing problem.
"It is time to end the system of member items once and for all," de Blasio said. "The facts speak for themselves. These things happened on her watch. Whatever efforts she did or didn't make, they happened on her watch."
Quinn, meanwhile, is talking up the reforms she put in place, arguing that Halloran would never have been able to pull off the quid-pro-quo that he allegedly promised.
She noted that a government watchdog group, Citizens Union, agrees with her.
"It's perfectly fine if Bill de Blasio wants to create a fake issue. But if he knew the facts, he would be saying what Citizens Union is saying, that we have tight reforms in place that prevent this type of criminality from happening, period," Quinn said.
Quinn said Halloran will be stripped of his committee assignments and lose the power to assign discretionary funding to his district.
De Blasio may be calling for an end to member items now, but in his last year in the City Council, in 2009, he gave out nearly $885,000 in member items to local groups.
Elected Officials Continue To React To Smith-Halloran Scandal
Meanwhile, city and state officials are continuing to react to the charges that Smith and Halloran were bribing GOP leaders to secure the state senator a spot on the Republican primary ballot.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said, "I hope that he fully cooperates with the investigation, I hope the investigation is thorough and speedy and gets to the facts, but it is very, very troubling. We have zero tolerance for any violation of the public integrity and the public trust, so they're very serious."
Mayor Michael Bloomberg suggested the alleged corruption could be avoided if the city switched to non-partisan elections.
"Generally speaking, the partisan elections deprive the public of the right to pick their own leaders because the only people that vote in the only election that matters are the fringe group of whether it's one party or another party," the mayor said. "And maybe they make good choices, maybe they don't, but it is very hard to argue that it is democratic. It is not, and that's where all this craziness comes from."
Republican mayoral candidate Joe Lhota, the former Metropolitan Transportation Authority chairman, said this scandal is one of the reasons why New Yorkers have lost their trust in public officials.
He released a statement saying, in part, "[T]hey should not only be incarcerated but they should also be stripped of any public pensions. I personally don't believe in degrees of integrity: you either have it or you don't."
Halloran had endorsed Lhota's candidacy last month.