Sheldon Silver: The man Upstaters love to hate

23 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to be arrested Thursday on corruption charges: report.

ALBANY — In a move bound to rock the state Capitol, longtime Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver reportedly will be arrested Thursday on corruption charges. While it’s unclear exactly what charges Silver could be facing, The Times reported they are linked to payments the powerful Manhattan Democrat received from New York City law Goldberg & Iryami that he did not disclose publicly as required by law. The arrest of Silver, who has been speaker for more than two decades, would likely throw the state capital of Albany into disarray at the beginning of a new session of the assembly, according to the Times.

The charges seem to be a further example of fallout from the collapse of the Moreland Commission, which has already gotten Governor Andrew Cuomo into legal hot water. Silver, 70, a Democrat, was in Albany on Wednesday where he attended Governor Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State address and had a prominent seat on the stage, the Times said. Due to his extraordinarily long tenure in office combined with the very strong institutional role of the legislative leadership in New York, that’s made him probably the single most important person in the past generation of New York politics. The saying in Albany is that decisions are made not by the voters or the legislature, but by “three men in a room” — the governor, the Speaker, and the leader of the New York State Senate. The probe came after an investigation by Cuomo’s Moreland Commission panel, which was looking into corruption in Albany when the governor shut it down.

Silver, along with Cuomo and Senate Republican Majority Leader Dean Skelos, are known as the “three men in the room” who negotiate most everything that gets done in Albany. In addition the financial controversies, Silver also became entangled in the Vito Lopez sex-harassment case when it became public that the speaker had hired two firms to defend the disgraced former assemblyman, spending nearly $700,000 in public funds. Silver — who could not be reached for comment early Thursday — was nearly ousted as Assembly speaker by his fellow Democrats in 2000, when they unexpectedly challenged his leadership position. He’s also been the key defender of the institutional status quo in Albany, a status quo that is generally regarded as bathed in corruption and conflicts of interest. Back in October he told a radio audience that New York government is “a little bit of a corruption disaster” due to weak ethics rules and large quantities of outside money.

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