One would think that being the Speaker of the State Assembly in New York is a full-time job. For years, Sheldon Silver famously hasn’t treated it as such, taking side jobs as a lawyer and consultant for various firms and companies. The possibility for a conflict of interest was clear, though Silver was required to disclose the income he earned in addition to his lucrative Speaker’s salary. What Silver was not required to disclose is the nature of his work. Choosing not to disclose the income (let alone the nature of the work) is a corruption red flag, which went up last year when it was discovered that Silver had accepted payments for “work” of an unclear nature for a real-estate firm.
Silver has been a divisive figure in New York politics, seen as shady at best by many familiar with his outside legal work and large payouts. He had also come under fire recently, along with Gov. Cuomo, for using campaign cash to pay for his legal defense, a practice many watchdog groups criticized as highly unethical.
Despite all of the discontent surrounding Silver, both recently and over the years, he still is the darling of New York State Democrats, unsurprisingly. The New York Times reported this morning,
After the disclosure, Mr. Silver said he had done nothing wrong but declined to comment in detail.
The speaker since 1994, Mr. Silver is a consummate back-room player, one of Albany’s “three men in a room,” along with the governor and Senate majority leader, who negotiate the state budget and hammer out deals on important legislation.
The day before his arrest, Mr. Silver, 70, was in Albany, where he attended Mr. Cuomo’s State of the State address and had a prominent seat on stage next to the governor.
Even after news of the investigation into Mr. Silver was made public, there had been no serious signs of dissent among Democrats in his caucus.
Mr. Silver was easily re-elected speaker this month when the Assembly gathered in Albany to begin the new legislative session.
A corrupt Democrat with cronies willing to keep him in power? How utterly unsurprising for the Empire State.
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