Silver clouds on the horizon, as meteorologist well know, indicate that a storm is coming. Shelly Silver has been riding his horse named corruption from Albany to Manhattan and throughout the cities and towns of New York State for more than a dozen years. So, it will indeed be interesting and good drama for New Yorkers to learn just who Shelly Silver has had helping him build his network of corruption and where and when it happened. Lawyers live in a world of quid pro quo or “something for something.” And, as my mother once said, “It takes two to Tango.”
When the storm clouds touched the ground, they appeared in the form of Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District. The following is quoted from a NY Post article written by Fredric U. Dicker: “One source described Cuomo as ‘doubly enraged’ by hard-driving Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara’s decision to bring the five criminal corruption charges against Silver just hours after the governor delivered his State of the State address – and then less than 24 hours after that, to indict Albany’s ‘three men in a room’ culture in which Cuomo is the lead player”.
Clearly, the hard-charging Manhattan U.S. Attorney, Preet Bharara, is setting his sights on just that – the “three men in a room culture” that has ruled the State Legislature for more years then I can remember. The citizens of New York State did not vote for a triumvirate that has become an “unholy trinity” thwarting the legislators of open honest debate on the issues that govern all New Yorkers, thereby robbing the voters of a constitutional government.
While the legislators listened to Governor Cuomo bloviating about outside income, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara went into action; he has the authority and the courage to focus an analytical lens on a subject that others wish to shied from scrutiny – outside income. Without question, outside income is the reason that the Republican leader of the NY State Senate, Dean Skelos never asked Shelly Silver to step down as Assembly speaker; because he himself, according to a NY Post Editorial Board article, is also under federal investigation. The Post article reports that US Attorney Preet Bharara is probing the Republican leader’s real-estate ties and outside income. Skelos works for the Long Island law firm Ruskin, Moscou & Faltischek, which does real-estate litigation. In 2013, Ruskin paid him between $150,000 and $250,000.
As in all criminal matters that center on influence peddling, the cornerstone of any investigation is to follow the money. And as the narrative of Shelly Silver’s “fall from grace” continues, a February 9, 2015 NY Post article notes that Weitz & Luxenberg, ”which boast $8 billion in client payouts, hired Silver, who has no background in asbestos law, to ‘increase the firm’s prestige and perceived power,’ according to last month’s federal indictment of the longtime assemblyman. In return, Silver, who also influences the careers of top judges, was paid $5.3M for a no show job”. This is a sterling example of quid pro quo.
To keep the story in sequential, chronological order it is easier to absorb and understand, however, in the case of Shelly Silver, there is much additional drama unfolding with each passing day. And, as we all know, the tentacles of an octopus branch out in many directions. For example, here again, we have the New York Post Editorial Board in an article titled “New York’s sleaze incentive”. The article starts with the question, “Why should new Yorkers have to pick-up the $545,000 tab for settling a lawsuit brought by two former legislative staffers who say they were sexually harassed by then-Assemblyman Vito Lopez”?
The article continues to explain how in this earlier case, Silver secretly authorized the payment of $103,000 in taxpayer-funded hush money to Lopez’s accusers – with the payments signed off without objection by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and state Comptroller Tom Napoli.
I will begin to close this chapter with a cautious note From Michael Goodwin, long time NY Post columnist regarding the new Assembly Speaker, Carl Heastie: “Carl Heastie isn’t up for the job. He assumes his throne bearing the endorsement from none other than the disgraced Sheldon Silver, who declares Heastie ‘a good man’.”
Now the question from Kampermann’s Korner is: With Queens Democratic Assemblyman David Weprin and Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas being identified in the February 9, 2015 edition of the NY Daily News as receiving more than $100,000 from outside legal work, will trickle-down justice hit Queens County before the Spring edition of the Juniper Berry? Stay tuned.
Support and Pray for our troops during this most
**The views expressed in this column represent only those of the author and not the board or membership of the Juniper Park Civic Association.