Bear Mountain Compact
The Bear Mountain Compact is an unofficial agreement among members of the New York State legislature in which they agree to keep whatever happens in the state capital in Albany, such as extramarital affairs and other embarrassing behavior, secret. "The Bear Mountain Compact" is similar to the Blue Code of Silence (also the Blue Wall of Silence), in which police officers never inform on one another, Omertà, the code of silence among Mafia organizations, and the expression "Whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas."
In his article for New York magazine, Michael Tomasky traces the secrecy in Albany "back to the days [in the 19th and early 20th centuries] when the Democratic hotel was the De Witt Clinton, the Republican hotel was the Ten Eyck, and one didn't pry too deeply into who was sleeping where."
Explanation of the Term
In their book, From Rocky to Pataki: Character and Caricatures in New York Politics (1998), Hy Rosen and Peter Slocum write that the "so-called Bear Mountain Compact dictated that anything that went on north of Bear Mountain wasn't ever discussed back home in New York City." In the New York Times, however, Al Baker associates the Bear Mountain Compact with the Bear Mountain Bridge, writing, "For years, the joke has been that the mostly male lawmakers and their hangers-on have clung to a secret code known as the Bear Mountain compact, whereby any liaisons with interns or young staff members that occur north of Bear Mountain Bridge, which spans the Hudson River between Orange and Westchester Counties, are not spoken about in the home districts in New York City or elsewhere."
One traditional, political definition of "Bear Mountain Compact" describes where "open secrets stay secret."
- New York Times, May 16, 2004, "Albany Faces Its Sex Problem, and Nobody's Snickering
- New York Magazine, June 30, 2003, "Capital Offense"
- Amy Goodnough, "Oh, Everyone Knows That (Except You)," New York Times, September 2, 2007. Found at NY Times archives. Accessed June 8, 2010.