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No Silver Lining For NY’s Powerful Assembly Speaker

Sheldon Silver / Source: The Grand Street News

The longest serving NY State Assembly Speaker, Sheldon Silver, was arrested on Thursday. If charges turn out to be true that he did abuse his position to receive substantial kickbacks from a law firm, Silver can be said to have been as corrupt as he was resilient, making it through five governors, six senate leaders, a sexual harassment scandal and a 2000 coup attempt, but Silver might finally have met his match in U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, according to Democrat & Chronicle.

Baharara is hardly an attack dog of an attorney; some criticize him for having been too soft on Wall Street. There is no doubt that the charges against Silver seem damning enough; he allegedly took $6 million from private law firms, including $4 million in bribes, without providing legal services. Bharara said, “For many years, New Yorkers have asked the question; how could Speaker Silver, one of the most powerful men in all of New York, earn millions of dollars in outside income without deeply compromising his ability to honestly serve his constituents? Today, we provide the answer-he didn’t.”

Josh Robin of the “Daily Beast” reminisces about times he was on Silver’s trail in the past, on one occasion, tracking him down at the only kosher restaurant in Denver. Robin ate a warm kosher bison meat sandwich on rye and remembers “Shelly Silver was serving up some icy stares in my direction.” The scandal concerned an Assembly staffer who accused an aide of raping her and claimed that Silver simply munched on his pretzels in his office indifferently when hearing her story and did nothing.

There are many disturbing aspects to Silver’s arrest. Robin added another angle, “Finally, let me talk about the taboo–Silver’s religion–if only because so many of my fellow Jews have confided what I confess I share: embarrassment that a religious Jew is handcuffed. Corruption pervades Albany; I can’t think of a religious or ethnic group spared. Still, it stings when one of them looks like your uncle.”

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