The conviction of Brooklyn Democratic assemblyman and powerbroker Clarence Norman Tuesday afternoon on campaign abuses means he will automatically forfeit his seat in the legislature. But that’s the lesser of his two crowns. It also spelled the end of Norman’s 15-year reign as the powerful chairman of the Executive Committee of Kings County Democratic Committee, the title that has made him the borough’s top judgemaker.
Moments after his conviction, Norman tendered his resignation as county leader, a source close to the Bedford Stuyvesant politician said. “He’s out. He’s lost his assembly post, his law license and the county committee. He didn’t want to wait for the formality. He has resigned,” said the source.
One longtime Norman foe said the verdict wasn’t surprising. “After all these years of games and shenanigans, there had to be some comeuppance,” said Alan Fleischman, a Democratic district leader from Park Slope who accused Norman of caring more about politics than merit in his judicial selections. “But it’s also a sad story for a smart, talented man who was a liberal on most issues,” said Fleischman.
A spokesman for District Attorney Charles “Joe” Hynes, who brought the charges against Norman said the verdict confirmed that “no one gets beyond the law.”
Norman was convicted of two felony counts of violating election laws, and one felony and one misdemeanor count for mishandling business records. The charges stemmed from what prosecutors alleged was Norman’s failure to report more than $10,000 in campaign contributions. The two-week long trial spanned a primary election in which Norman tried desperately to defeat Hynes at the polls with his own candidate, state senator John Sampson. Hynes won that bout as well, taking 41 percent of the vote to Sampson’s 37 percent.
The veteran pol’s removal sets up a new power struggle among Brookyn Democrats. Among the potential candidates to to seek the leadership slot are three longtime Norman allies and fellow assembly members: Vito Lopez, Annette Robinson, and Diane Gordon. Other possible contenders include District Leader Joe Bova of Bensonhurst, and assemblyman Darryl Towns, son of Rep. Edolphus Towns who has been on the outs with Norman in recent years.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 27, 2005