Preet reels in the big fish: Sheldon Silver arrested on corruption charges

Preet Bharara
DOJ NY Southern Region Leader Preet Bharara

The man many have called the most powerful figure in New York politics over the past 20 years, longtime Speaker of the NY Assembly Sheldon Silver, has been arrested on corruption charges by the FBI.

US Attorney for the Southern NY District Preet Bharara had commenced a major investigation of many of New York’s politicians following the sudden closure of Governor Cuomo’s so-called anti-corruption Moreland Commission. The NY Post reported that Silver had been under investigation for allegedly improperly receiving kickbacks from companies that did business with the state through his law firm Weitz and Luxenberg.

The feds seized $3.8 million of Silver’s money, with Bharara claiming he never did any actual legal work and merely cashed in on his political influence.

As speaker, Silver had made artwork of controlling the political agenda in the state, not allowing undesired legislation to see the light of day. However, in recent years his clout had waned slightly due to a sexual harassment scandal involving Vito Lopez he was exposed as having helped cover up, and the increasing prominence of fellow Democrat Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Stopping “Shelly’s corruption” had become a 2014 campaign slogan for New York Republicans. “Sheldon Silver must immediately resign,” NYGOP spokesman David Laska said. “While this is another sad day for New York, we cannot be distracted from the important business of growing our economy and creating jobs.”

Sheldon Silver, arrested by the feds
Sheldon Silver, arrested by the feds

The GOP’s 2014 gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino stated, “Mr. Silver’s arrest raises serious questions about the Moreland Commission shut down about which I was so critical last year. Specifically, it begs the question of whether Mr. Silver’s alleged illegalities were known to the Commission when it was shuttered. If they were, and if that information was not properly referred to law enforcement authorities, this case will grow.”

The Rockland County Times has requested comment from all state lawmakers in Rockland County and several Rockland County Democratic Party officials.

This afternoon Assembly Democrats announced their consensus support for Silver remaining on the job as speaker at this time. “I’m continuing to support the speaker,” Majority Leader Joseph Morelle said. “We have every confidence that the speaker is going to continue to fulfill his role with distinction.”