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The Empire

The John Haggerty trial: Azi Paybarah breaks down details on the Brian Lehrer Show

The Empire blog alum and reporter Azi Paybarah has been closely covering the John Haggerty trial this week. Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance is pursuing a case against the Republican operative after he allegedly stole over $1 million from Bloomberg for "ballot security" during Bloomberg's 2009 closer-than-expected third-term mayoral election.

Haggerty is a long-time Republican operative from Queens who allegedly failed to do his "ballot security" job, instead taking the money to buy out his brother Bart's share of their deceased father's family home.

But as Azi points out, the term "ballot security" alone suggests the mayor was dabbling in some shady electoral behavior, and the mayor likely knew more of what he was getting himself into than not.

"Ballot security" is a term used to describe activities at the voting booth that other people might call voter intimidation or suppression. The money Haggerty allegedly stole was first given by Bloomberg personally to the Independence Party, who had given the mayor their ballot line. The money was then funneled to Haggerty.

Bloomberg, as Azi described the theory, wanted to delay the reporting of the payment to Haggerty, which giving the money to the Independence Party first did.

Brian Lehrer: And he wanted to hide it because ballot security is associated with voter suppression?

Azi Paybarah: It appears to be an unflattering political maneuver that a candidate, in a close race, does not want that type of attention.

The whole interview is worth a listen, especially if you're finding the rational for the case is a little confusing.

And check out Azi's superb coverage of the race. Look for the Empire to weigh in on some of the potential ripple effects later this week. The trial is set to resume on Monday.