Prosecutors Target a Brand-New Judge

Another Manhattan bench press

Prosecutors asked witnesses before the grand jury about a meeting that took place in August between Anderson, Rubenstein, and others. Oliva said he knew nothing about it. "I worked with her for almost eight months. She was never deceptive or dishonest," he said.

Rubenstein did not return calls, but another source who knows him acknowledged that the lawyer "gifted" Anderson more than $100,000, in addition to the $225,000 loan. "She put that in the campaign," said the source.

Things got awkward for Anderson after she failed to pay back Rubenstein's loan by the time of the primary election, a failure that automatically converts the loan into a contribution—in this case, one well beyond the maximum of $32,000. For her part, Anderson insisted that the general election deadline was the one that counted, and she made her final repayment of the $225,000 loan on November 3—the day before the vote, records show. Prosecutors have questioned whether those funds also originated from Rubenstein.

Old-timers will tell you that this is hardly the first campaign to miss the deadline to repay loans, and that criminal prosecutions are rare. "We don't have any record of something along these lines," said state Board of Elections spokesman Robert Brown. Anderson's allies are also happy to spin out scenarios suggesting that any prosecution by Morgenthau's office is just a way for the D.A. to protect his own political flank as he gets ready to seek re-election next year, at age 90.

If so, it's an excellent motive. The only thing more unseemly than watching judicial candidates raise thousands of dollars for their campaigns is seeing them squirm when their contributors come calling. Let lawyers and experts pick the judges so the rest of us can get back to handicapping the Iowa caucuses.

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