In common parlance, someone who lies to get money is a "fraud."

In the New York State Senate, such a person is "a key ally of the leader."

That's what we've learned in recent days as it has come out that John Flanagan, the Republican majority leader of the Senate, has lied to the payroll office to get extra money for senators whose support he needs to stay majority leader.

For those following along at home, Flanagan rose to this position after the last guy who held it got a sentence to federal prison.

The game Flanagan and his flunkies play is to pretend that they -- the flunkies -- chair Senate committees they in fact don't actually chair. The significance of this lie is that people who chair committees get leadership "stipends" to pad their salaries.

So, the Flanagan flunkies fraudulently claim a title and fraudulently claim the money that goes with the title.

And the Senate Republican leadership assures you that this is completely legal. The Republican lawyer on their payroll says so.

I'd be curious to know what the attorney general or the FBI think. 

Here's an example: Pam Helming, of Canandaigua.

Recruited by Flanagan to run, with the understanding that she would support him as leader, she is in her first term.

And she started on day one as chair of the Crime Victims, Crime and Corrections Committee.

See the irony there?

Except the problem is, she was only the leader of the committee on whatever little piece of paper -- hereinafter referred to as "People's Exhibit A" -- Flanagan turned in to payroll. She wasn't and isn't the actual chair of the committee. A guy named Patrick Gallivan is.

Except he's getting paid to be the chairman of the Education Committee.

Which he's not actually the chairman of.

So she's lying, and he's lying, and they're both on deck to get $18,000 for it.

Except, of course, that when the local paper called her up yesterday and asked her about the con, Helming insisted that she hadn't cashed the $12,500 worth of leadership checks she'd gotten so far, and would return them to the taxpayers at her first opportunity.

She's not cashed pay checks for five months? And she still gets pay checks when everyone else on the planet gets direct deposit?

Sounds like a case of one lie leads to another leads to another.

And it sounds like somebody ought to come out of this deal wearing handcuffs.

Flanagan needs Helming's vote to stay majority leader. He also needs the acquiescence of the so-called Independent Democrat Caucus, a half dozen Benedict Arnolds who run as Democrats but get bought off by the Republicans. Interestingly, three of the Independent Democrats also get fake chairmanship money -- including Dave Valesky, of Oneida. 

Flanagan and his payroll Republican lawyer say this is all proper and right.

And I say it's all a load of crap.

Corruption is corruption is corruption.

And to demonstrate that fact, you need do nothing more than ask what would happen if a cop or a firefighter or a school teacher tried this same scam. If such a government employee -- who might actually be engaged in a useful task -- put in paperwork claiming money for a job she didn't do, that's an E felony.

Which is what these pols ought to get. The attorney general ought to put a boot in their ass. They ought to resign in shame. There ought to be some pledge of reform and a cessation of this dishonesty.

But none of those things will happen.

We will be assured, like fretful sheep, that all is well and proper.

And Republicans like me will keep voting for whatever crook was able to make a deal to get on the ballot.

And the criminal conspiracy that is New York state government will keep screwing us into the ground.