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CRONYISM, “MISDEEDS” APPEAR TO BE SYSTEMIC IN ALBANY
by Sharon Rondeau
(Jan. 28, 2015) — After his arrest on Thursday morning on five corruption counts, New York House of Representatives Speaker of the House Sheldon Silver agreed to resign his 20-year reign on Tuesday evening, effective on Monday, February 2.
Silver plans to remain a legislator representing New York’s 65th District and has vowed to clear himself of all charges.
New York city media have referred to Silver as a “power broker” and long-serving “fixture” in New York State politics. According to New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin, Silver’s alleged wielding of influence over “the courts, the Legislature, not-for-profits and even an innocuous-sounding resolution to enrich himself” was well-known by fellow lawmakers of both parties.
Goodwin further reported that “A line of federal prosecutors in the Northern District, which covers the capital, avoids political cases like the plague, as do the five DAs in the city,” causing the responsibility to fall on U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara.
Bharara recently prosecuted the son of a New York state senator for omitting income gleaned from his father’s alleged arrangement with a lobbying firm to reimburse the son’s employer for a portion of his salary. The father, State Senator Tom Libous, was indicted on one count of one count of lying to the FBI by a federal grand jury last summer. After the indictment was issued, Bharara issued the following statement:
As alleged, Thomas Libous took advantage of his position as Senator and Chairman of the Transportation Committee by corruptly causing lobbyists, who wanted Libous’s influence to benefit their clients, to funnel money through a law firm to his son where Libous has gotten his son a position. He then tried to cover up his corrupt conduct by lying to FBI Agents about his knowledge of his son’s arrangement with the firm, as the Indictment describes. Public servants should serve the public first, not themselves and their families. This Office will continue to pursue elected officials who attempt to take corrupt advantage of their positions.
A whistleblower working to expose corruption in the mortgage industry leading to alleged financing of terror has described Bharara as “one of the good guys” in prosecuting crimes.
Silver is an ally of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who abruptly ended the “Moreland Commission,” which was intended to root out public corruption. Silver had opined that the commission was “on a fishing expedition,” but his arrest occurred as a result of the commission’s unfinished work, according to The New York Times.
Silver stood to Cuomo’s right at his State of the State address on January 21. According to a source of The New York Post, Cuomo is “freaked-out and furious” after Bharara announced the charges against Silver “just hours” after Cuomo’s address to New Yorkers.
The day after Cuomo’s address, Bharara stated of the charges against Silver, “These charges in our view go to the very core of what ails Albany: lack of transparency, lack of accountability, and lack of principle — joined with overabundance of greed, cronyism, and self-dealing. But we will keep at it,” Bharara said. “As our unfinished fight against public corruption continues, you should stay tuned.”
During an address to a New York law school on Friday, Bharara is reported to have commented that routine “deal-making” carried out by Cuomo, Silver, and the State Senate Majority Leader has led to a powerful triumvirate which dictates state policy without debate, termed the “three-men-in-a-room” method which leads to the commission of “misdeeds.”
Bharara’s office has prosecuted and obtained convictions on three other New York State assemblymen.