Will Conviction Of NY Legislative Leader Prompt Ethics Reforms?


The conviction of New York state Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver in one of the state’s highest-profile public-corruption cases in decades could signal a shift in the business of Albany and lead to further investigations of a capital with a long-standing reputation for questionable conduct, reports the Wall Street Journal. Silver was found guilty by a federal jury in Manhattan of four counts of honest-services fraud, two counts of extortion and one count of money laundering. At the heart of the case was whether procedures and conduct that are commonplace to Albany are a violation of the law or simply the unavoidable consequence of having a part-time legislature.

Defense attorney Justin Shur said federal prosecutors were declaring “standard practices” improper. The jury decided Silver’s actions were illegal, bringing an end to his lengthy political career. For many legislators, and perhaps for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who took office in 2011 vowing to overhaul ethics in Albany, the conviction is a sign that the capital long derided as a “cesspool” will still be under pressure to change its ways. The trials of Silver and Sen. Dean Skelos, also facing corruption charges, “have to be seen as an indictment of how the legislature has been doing business,” said Sen. Liz Krueger, a Manhattan Democrat.

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