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GOP Mayoral Candidates Distance Selves From Alleged Bribery Scandal

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For months, GOP candidates for mayor courted the city's party chairmen. Now that two of the counties are implicated in this scandal, they are keeping their distance. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.

Malcolm Smith won't make it onto the GOP ticket, but candidates on the ballot are trying to spin the scandal to their advantage.

Vincent Tabone, the the Queens GOP vice chairman accused of bribery, worked for mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis as an attorney and as a consultant on his campaign.

Catsimatidis said he has been suspended.

"I thought it shows good judgement," Catsimatidis said. "I worked with the federal government for the last couple months."

The Lhota campaign would not comment on the scandal, but the other candidates are now touting their independence from the party leadership.

"I'm an outsider," said candidate George McDonald. "I came into this process understanding how difficult it was going to be for me to get on the ballot. The first meeting that I had with these gentlemen, it was about, 'Would you run even if we told you not to?'"

For months, the GOP chairmen failed to coalesce around one candidate.

Bronx party leader Jay Savino had argued the party should keep its options open.

"Allowing the people the opportunity to meet all of these guys, discuss the issues that benefit the city of New York, the longevity of the city of New York, instead of us deciding for them," Savino said on February 4.

Now that Savino is accused of taking bribes to get Malcolm Smith on that ballot, some GOP consultants said his move earlier makes more sense.

"Twenty years ago or 10 years, the five chairmen could get together in New York City and come up with a consensus candidate," said Bill O'Reilly, a Republican consultant. "Maybe the fact that this kind of corruption was going on is the reason that they haven't."

Even though the county chairmen have been in the spotlight all campaign season long, some political experts said the scandal could spur a change in that leadership.

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