This Clarence Is No Clown

Brooklyn Boss Leaves Trail of Campaign and Judicial Scandals

Ward was hired in January as an $80,000-a-year special assistant to the only winner Norman backed this year, City Comptroller William Thompson. Carmen Martinez, who is the treasurer of Norman's committee, also works for Thompson, and is paid $91,307 a year. The Post's Norman series, written by Maggie Haberman and Jack Newfield, revealed that in the '90s many judicial candidates and others backed by Norman put another of his close associates, Carl Andrews, on their campaign payroll, often at exorbitant rates. While Andrews, who became a state senator in a special election this year, has recently received less in consulting payments, Ward appears to be continuing the practice.

But it's not just shady campaign financing that has the media focused on Norman. It's also shady judicial appointments. While the Barron story and others have dominated the news, no one has paid attention to Norman's 2001 machinations in making a new supreme court judge, Howard Ruditzky. Ruditzky was a civil court judge, elected to a 10-year term in 1991. He ran with the backing of Norman's county organization for re-election in the September primary last year. Though county-endorsed judicial candidates win almost automatic re-election, Ruditzky came in last in a field of four.

Within days of his rejection by the people, Norman decided to give him a supreme court judgeship, a far more important post that can be doled out by party leaders without any primary participation by voters. Court Street insiders could not think of another occasion—even going back to the sewer days of twice-convicted party boss Meade Esposito—when a losing civil court nominee was rewarded with the top plum.

Norman: His finance maneuvers circumvent state election law.
photo: Fred W. McDarrah
Norman: His finance maneuvers circumvent state election law.

Norman controls the judicial nominating convention that picks the Democratic candidates for 14-year terms on the supreme court. He also routinely garners third-party ballot lines for the candidates he designates, as he did for Ruditzky. At the last minute, Norman elevated Ruditzky, whose record was so spotty he was one of the few Brooklyn civil court judges to spend a mere six months as an acting supreme court judge, appointed by the Office of Court Administration in 1999 and quickly rotated out of the job.

All of this Norman intrigue is an invitation for investigation, a clarion call to Hynes, the once proud prosecutor who now appears to be just one of the boys.

Research assistance: Annachieara Danieli, Martine Guerrier, Lauren Johnston, Peter G.H. Madsen, Jess Wisloski

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