North Fork Assemblyman Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) says Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver should immediately resign as speaker after his arrest yesterday on federal corruption charges.
Silver, a Manhattan Democrat and one of the most powerful men in Albany, stands accused of taking millions of dollars in graft and abusing his power as speaker. The charges are detailed in a 35-page criminal complaint filed by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. (Read complaint below.)
“Sheldon Silver owes it to his Assembly colleagues to resign as speaker,” Palumbo said in a statement issued last night. “It is time we elect a speaker who leads in a fair and honest fashion,” he said. “The people of New York are tired of hearing about the constant scandals condoned under Sheldon Silver’s watch. His arrest today results from the persistent corruption he has allowed to occur for decades.”
Palumbo joins his colleagues in the Republican minority of the legislative chamber in asking Silver, who has held the powerful speaker post since 1994, to step aside.
Palumbo said the state legislature, which under the state constitution, must adopt a budget by April 1, can’t afford to be distracted by Silver’s “personal problems.”
The Assembly canceled its session yesterday as word of Silver’s arrest rocked Albany and threw the Assembly into a state of uncertainty, at best.
“As it stands now, we don’t even have committee chairs selected and without committees, we cannot get bill to the floor for a vote,” Palumbo said.
“The budget proposed by the governor has a lot of controversial issues that we need to start working on immediately,” Palumbo said. “As such, it is time for the remaining 149 members of this body to get to work and perform the tasks we were elected to undertake.”
Silver, 70, was released on a $200,000 personal recognizance bond following his arraignment in federal court in lower Manhattan yesterday. He surrendered his passport and was ordered by the federal magistrate judge not to leave the continental U.S. The judge also issued seizure warrants to Silver’s access to $3.8 million in various personal accounts, according to the N.Y. Times.
Silver, who lives on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, was first elected to represent New York’s 65th Assembly District, comprising much of lower Manhattan, in 1976.
As he left the courtroom yesterday, he told reporters he is confident he will be vindicated and his lawyer called the charges “meritless,” according to the Times report. Silver’s spokesperson “confirmed that the speaker is slated to return to Albany for session next week,” according to the Albany Times-Union.
Assembly Democrats deliberated for two hours yesterday before publicly standing behind Silver, the Times-Union reported. After emerging from the caucus, Assembly Democratic Majority Leader Joe Morelle told reporters he supports Silver and “the members overwhelmingly in the conversation we just had are continuing their support.”
Morelle said everyone should remember that a person charged with a crime is presumed innocent.
“We have every confidence that the speaker is going to continue to fill his role with distinction,” Morelle told reporters.
The survival of local journalism depends on your support.
We are a small family-owned operation. You rely on us to stay informed, and we depend on you to make our work possible. Just a few dollars can help us continue to bring this important service to our community.
Support RiverheadLOCAL today.