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Powerful New York Assembly Speaker to resign over scandal

By News Express on 30/01/2015

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The powerful Speaker of New York Assembly in the United States of America has bowed to pressure and agreed to throw in the towel in the wake a massive corruption scandal. Scandal-scarred Sheldon Silver on Tuesday night agreed to resign.

Silver’s decision to quit – amid calls from fellow Democrats to do so – came less than a week after being busted by the feds for allegedly using his public office to amass millions of dollars in kickbacks and no-show jobs.

“I will not impede the process. . . . I believe very deeply in the institution. I hope there will be somebody here to carry on the good work that has been done,” a somber Silver said outside his office in the state capital.

It’s not clear when Silver will formally step down – he could do so at any time – but Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle of Rochester said the speaker’s seat will be vacant on Monday.

Silver emphasised that while he’s surrendering the speakership, he will remain an assemblyman and continue to represent the Lower East Side as he fights the corruption charges. He maintains he’s innocent and will be vindicated.

“I will be a member of this house. I was elected by my constituents. I do not intend to resign my seat in this house,” said Silver, first elected to the Assembly in 1976.

Assembly Democrats agreed Tuesday night to appoint an interim leader for a couple of weeks to replace Silver.

After more than six hours of closed-door discussions, Democrats named Morelle as their leader through Feb. 10.

Those jockeying to become the next speaker were concerned that installing Morelle — an ally of Gov. Andrew Cuomo — as the acting leader for an extended period would give him an unfair advantage in the final vote down the road. That’s why the contenders fought to limit Morelle’s tenure as temporary speaker to just two weeks.

Top contenders for the permanent leadership spot include Carl Heastie of The Bronx, Cathy Nolan of Queens and Joe Lentol of Brooklyn. Keith Wright of Manhattan is also in the mix, as is Morelle.

Silver, 70, was re-elected speaker earlier this month. He was on his way to becoming the longest-serving speaker in New York history before getting busted by US Attorney Preet Bharara for allegedly “monetising” his position.

“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,” Bharara said.

“For many years, New Yorkers have also asked the question: What exactly does Speaker Silver do to earn his substantial outside income? Well, the head-scratching can come to an end on that score, too, because we answer that question today as well: He does nothing,” the prosecutor said.

“Speaker Silver never did any actual legal work. He simply sat back and collected millions of dollars by cashing in on his public office and political influence,” Bharara said.

•Adapted from a New York Post report. Photo of Sheldon Silver also courtesy of NYPost.

Source News Express

Posted 30/01/2015 09:54:24 AM


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