April 2, 2010; New York Daily News | When we come across stories like this we’re of two minds. On one hand, it’s good to know that questionable dealings between politicians and nonprofits get closely scrutinized by law enforcement. On the other hand, if proven true, we have to ask ourselves, when is this kind of self-dealing going to stop?

According to the New York Daily News, a federal grand jury is asking whether, what the paper describes, as a group of one of the borough’s “most powerful political figures” is using a “a web of nonprofit groups to benefit themselves, their families and their friends.”

Among the prominent politicians under investigation by the U.S. attorney’s public corruption office is the president of the New York State Senate, Malcolm Smith. Investigators reportedly have documents concerning taxpayer money that the Daily News says Smith “sponsored for several nonprofits.”

While Smith was unavailable for comment, his lawyer Gerald Shargel, said, “They can subpoena all the documents in the world. They’re not going to find any evidence of wrongdoing by Malcolm Smith.”  Other documents that have been requested involve a charter school which is said to be a “source of campaign funds and patronage for Smith”; and those that detail the workings of a “housing and social service empire built by the Rev. Floyd Flake,” Smith’s political mentor.  Definitely a tangled web that will take some time to unravel.—Bruce Trachtenberg