Tags: Sheldon Silver | indictment | Andrew Cuomo | Moreland Commission

Indictment of Sheldon Silver Puts Cuomo in Difficult Situation

Image: Indictment of Sheldon Silver Puts Cuomo in Difficult Situation
(Hans Pennink/Carlo Allegri/Reuters/Landov)

By    |   Monday, 26 Jan 2015 10:01 AM

One day after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled his agenda for the coming year, State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was facing federal corruption charges, which has placed the governor and his agenda in a precarious situation.

"Obviously it's bad for the speaker, but it's also a bad reflection on government and it adds to the negativity. And it adds to the cynicism and it adds to the 'they're all the same,' " Cuomo told the editorial board of the New York Daily News last Thursday.

It is also bad for Cuomo, who declined to call for Silver's resignation, saying that he wanted "to see the facts before I have an opinion" and that "I truly do not know enough" to make a statement.

"I don't think anyone is happy in the political establishment given the repercussions to other members of the Legislature and other elected officials in high positions," Democrat political consultant George Arzt told the New York Post, adding that the indictment was "an earthquake of seismic proportions.

The earthquake came on Thursday in the form of a five-count complaint announced by U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara, and Richard Frankel, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Criminal Division of the New York Field Office of the FBI.

According to the indictment, Silver is alleged to have accepted $4 million in kickbacks and bribes from people and businesses in exchange for his official acts and then masked them as legitimate income.

In addition to other political figures, the commission was actively probing questions about the source of Silver's outside income, reported The New York Times in December.

Last March, Cuomo shut down the Moreland Commission, which was formed in 2013 with the purposed of rooting out government corruption.

"This is going to be fireworks and marching bands around the notion that its work was not done. There was plenty more to discover, and it just didn't happen," contends David S. Birdsell, dean of the Baruch College School of Public Affairs, in an interview with The New York Times.

The matter becomes complicated for Cuomo because some believe the reason he closed the commission was partly a result of a deal with Silver. In return for ending the commission, Silver would allow for the passage of a campaign finance bill that Cuomo was pushing, according to a report in Politico.

"Abandoning the commission was a major trade-off for Cuomo. His Democratic primary opponent last year Zephyr Teachout, a law professor who studies corruption, used the commission's demise to bludgeon the governor for acquiescing to Albany's business-as-usual. Now, however, it appears the deal could have far more lasting implications for the re-elected governor," writes Jeff Smith, a former Missouri state senator who admitted to violating campaign finance laws and currently serves as an urban policy professor at The New School in New York City.

The question, like many government corruption scandals, may come down to what Cuomo knew and when.

"It makes it look like the commission was onto something, so that's a problem for him. It shows why the Legislature fought him so hard and fought us so hard. It can't be good for him," a former Moreland Commission member told The Wall Street Journal.

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One day after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled his agenda for the coming year, State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was facing federal corruption charges, which has placed the governor and his agenda in a precarious situation.
Sheldon Silver, indictment, Andrew Cuomo, Moreland Commission
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2015-01-26
Monday, 26 Jan 2015 10:01 AM
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