Public administrators tend to rouse attention only when complaints flare over their competence or their fees or their tendency to oversee dens of political patronage. Or when they run afoul of the law. Last year, a former longtime counsel to the Bronx County public administrator pleaded guilty to grand larceny, while a bookkeeper for the Kings County public administrator was sentenced to a prison term for stealing from the dead.

The Lonely Death of George Bell

What does 'dens of political patronage' mean?

  • 2
    Please check here – Peter Jan 25 '16 at 22:11
  • @ Peter Thank you very much. Do you mind posting an answer so that I could wrap up my question? – whitecap Jan 25 '16 at 22:19
  • I'd say that a "den" of "political patronage" is even more egregious than an instance of "political patronage." A "den" would refer to a system of political patronage with multiple layers. – MaxW Jan 26 '16 at 0:37

Political patronage occurs when a politician exchanges favours for support (read: money).

You back me and I'll get that law passed for you

Such practices are usually considered corrupt and unlawful

Dens of political patronage is a metaphor for the systematic and widespread practice of favours for sale, each department being its own den

The phrase is also an allusion to the Den of Thieves story in the Bible where Jesus chases the money changers (considered a dirty practice) from the Temple (a holy place). The money changers had turned the Temple into a Den of Thieves


When I read this phrase I think of people in government who use their position to help someone achieve a goal and in turn expect to be compensated.

A den is the home of a wild animal,particulularly a beast of prey. It also has the meaning of a cavern or hollow used as a place of concealment. So you may see such phrases as a "den of robbers" or a "den of vipers"

A patron is someone who takes care of you as in a patron saint or an artist's patron. So patronage is taking care of someone but in the case of political patronage something is expected in return.

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