While Democrats in the New York State Assembly are standing behind Sheldon Silver amid corruption allegations, there has been talk of a bi partisan coup, as reported by the New York Post.
Sheldon Silver has been the longest serving New York State Assembly Speaker, and took the office in 1994 as one of New York State’s highest ranking Democrats. This image became tarnished questions arose over his earnings as an attorney. The FBI and U.S. Attorney Prett Bharara are investigating payments made to Silver from real estate law firm Goldberg & Iryami, while the payments were absent from Silver’s financial disclosure forms.
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Many Democrats in Albany are defending Silver, despite his recent arrest when he turned himself in to the FBI. Majority Leader Joseph Morelle, a Democrat representing Monroe County, said “I’m continuing to support the speaker, and I would say that the members are overwhelmingly in the conversation we just had, continuing their support, ” according to Democrat & Chronicle. Morelle emphasized the “presumption of innocence” even as he conceded that he and other state senators had not yet read through the five-count criminal complaint.
This scandal comes at an awkward time when Governor Andrew Cuomo presented his budget a few days earlier. There is concern that preoccupation with the scandal will hijack meaningful discussion on the budget, and the absence of Silver will certainly be felt. The New York Post discussed the possibility of a coup against Silver organized by a coalition of Democrats and Republicans to force his ouster, but this has been rejected by GOP leader Brian Kolb. Some suggest Kolb is in league with Silver, since Kolb has failed to criticize Silver in the past, even as it was revealed that in 2012 the speaker approved of a $100, 000 settlement paid to women who accused Brooklyn Assemblyman Vito Lopez of sexual harassment.
Republican James Tedisco, Kolb’s predecessor as minority leader, told the Post that Silver might have some dirt on Kolb and might be directly or indirectly blackmailing him. However, sources close to Silver deny this.