Suspicions of campaign finance crimes attracted federal investigators, spurred a referral to the Justice Department and led to calls for a special prosecutor to step in.
The politician in prosecutors’ crosshairs was now-Senate Democratic Leader Charles E. Schumer, back when he was a freshman congressman from New York.
He allegedly used his taxpayer-paid state Assembly staff to work on his 1980 congressional campaign. What helped Mr. Schumer dodge the campaign-finance bullet was a combination of legal loopholes and lack of political will to force prosecution — including then-Gov. Mario Cuomo putting the brakes on legal action.