A Maximus Postscript

Hidden Conflicts of Rudy's Welfare Team

As he was leaving the Giuliani administration in 1997, Schwartz told Times reporter David Firestone that he would not pursue any city contracts. Asked about that statement, Schwartz initially said his answer could have been "more precise." A day later, a News spokesman relayed a written statement in which Schwartz said: "That obviously wasn't binding but it was my preference. But the situation evolved. Once we had partners, investors, and most importantly employees it was unfair to shut them and the company out of the local marketplace. So we decided to seek work where appropriate while complying with all the conflict of interest rules."

Since he went to the Daily News in 2001, Schwartz's editorial page has fiercely criticized the ethics of others in or around government. It has called Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver "a walking conflict of interest" for carrying on legal business, which is permitted by state rules. It has blasted Brooklyn's judicial screening panel for "blatant conflicts of interest," and castigated the U.S. Olympic Committee (after it selected New York City as its choice for the 2012 games) as "tangled in conflicts of interest."

Schwartz was asked whether his own performance—as a former top City Hall aide who profited from the policies he helped shape—fell short of the ethics standard to which he now holds others.

"Just a second," he said, putting the call on hold for several seconds. "The answer is no," he said when he came back on the line.

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