Sheldon Silver

WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

An ethics bill New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says will increase accountability and transparency was signed into law Wednesday. But good-government groups say the measure is just a band-aid on chronic corruption in Albany.

Composite Image by Dave Lucas (WAMC)

A judge says former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver can remain free until at least late October while he appeals his conviction and 12-year prison sentence.

Silver Sentenced To 12 Years In Prison

May 3, 2016

Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was  sentenced to 12 years in prison and told by a federal judge that he must give back $5 million that he stole from the public, as well as pay another $1.75 million in fines.

Composite Image by Dave Lucas (WAMC)

Prosecutors have asked a judge to send former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to prison for over a decade while his defense lawyers say he deserves little or no time behind bars.

Sheldon Silver
Karen DeWitt

NEW YORK (AP) — In newly released documents, federal prosecutors say former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver abused his power to help two women, including a lobbyist, with whom he had extramarital affairs.

Office of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo

2015 saw the fall of two of the three most powerful people in state government, and the rise of one U.S. Attorney. 

The latest Siena College poll finds that most people agree with the corruption conviction of the state’s former longtime Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who was found guilty on seven counts two weeks ago.

Karen Dewitt. WAMC

The last time the state held a constitutional convention, Bobby Kennedy was Senator. That was in 1967.  The last time a constitutional convention met and voters actually ratified it’s result, was 75 years ago. It was in 1938, at the height of the great depression.

Blair Horner: The Former Speaker Is Convicted

Dec 7, 2015

When former Assembly Speaker Silver was convicted of corruption on all counts, there was also a second conviction: Albany’s way of conducting the public’s business.  From the court proceedings’ first days, it was clear that Albany’s ethics were also on trial.

Despite Trials, Little Talk Of Reform In Albany

Nov 18, 2015

The New York state legislature is seemingly back to business as usual, with majority parties holding planning meetings, and the new session set to begin right after the holidays. But as Karen DeWitt reports, there has been little public discussion about a corruption crisis that has led to the two most powerful men in the legislature both on trial in federal court this month.

Blair Horner: Albany On Trial

Nov 16, 2015

As the former New York State Senate Majority Leader goes to trial and his former counterpart Assembly Speaker is still in court, it has become clear that whatever the outcome, Albany’s ethics is on trial.

Former State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos
Karen DeWitt

For the second time in a month, one of New York State's biggest political figures is going on trial on corruption charges.

A new Siena College poll finds that while New York voters support efforts to rein in state government corruption, they're more concerned about whether lawmakers pass the budget on time.  Governor Andrew Cuomo has tied one to the other…   

51 percent of voters told Siena ethics reform would reduce government corruption. 44 percent think it will have little or no impact. The poll was released the same day former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was being arraigned on federal corruption charges; Silver’s arrest has prompted a new round of ethics debate in Albany.

Blair Horner: Albany's "Watergate" Moment

Feb 23, 2015

The recent indictment of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is simply the latest in a series of scandals involving the conflicts created by allowing sitting legislators to earn unlimited, unrestricted income from outside jobs.  But the controversy surrounding the former Speaker’s “moonlighting” is not the first time the issue has been raised.  The ability of sitting lawmakers to profit in any profession or business has been central to other recent scandals.  Here are some of the most high profile examples:


  New York’s political class was stunned by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s arrest.

In today’s Congressional Corner, New York representative Sean Patrick Maloney tells WAMC’s Alan Chartock the allegations are “personally offensive.”

Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney
Courtesy of the Office of Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney

New York Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney of the 18th district discussed the recent arrest of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver during a taping of WAMC's Congressional Corner on Wednesday.

Blair Horner: The Speaker Gets Arrested

Jan 26, 2015

Albany was rocked by a political earthquake last week with the arrest of Speaker of the Assembly Sheldon Silver.  The arrest stemmed from an investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s office and alleged the Speaker’s involvement in a vast kickback and corruption enterprise that spanned many years.  The Speaker denies the U.S. Attorney’s allegations and maintains his innocence.

WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

U.S. Attorney Preet Bhara said Thursday that New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver traded his influence to amass millions of dollars in graft. Silver, a Manhattan Democrat who has run the Assembly for two decades, was arrested and faces up to 100 years in prison if convicted on all counts. At issue is Silver’s outside income as a lawyer, earned on top of his $121,000 salary as speaker. Over the years, Silver has been a frequent guest on WAMC’s Capitol Connection with Alan Chartock. The outside income issue came up during a 2010 show, recorded during negotiations over an ethics bill with then-Governor David Paterson.

1/23/15 Panel

Jan 23, 2015

  The Roundtable Panel: a daily open discussion of issues in the news and beyond.

Today's panelists are WAMC’s Alan Chartock, Newsman Ray Graf, and Times Union Associate Editor Mike Spain.

Topics include: Sheldon Silver Charged - Should He Step Down?, King Abdullah Dead, Patriots, turmoil in Yemen, Obama and Netanhayu will not meet.

Now that the New York State budget is done, the focus at the Capitol shifts to some other priorities, including whether to allow medical marijuana. Advocates came to the Capitol to lobby lawmakers, but the bill is getting bogged down over political skirmishes.

Still No Budget Deal In Albany

Mar 28, 2014
Andrew Cuomo

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders are still struggling to come to a final budget agreement after the time for an expected announcement came and went on Friday.

An Assemblyman from the Bronx has been convicted of corruption charges, meanwhile an Assemblyman from the Buffalo area resigned over accusations of sexual harassment.

On the first formal day of the legislative session, Assemblyman Eric Stevenson was convicted of bribery by a federal jury after he took $20,000 from adult day care developers in exchange for promising favorable legislation.  Under state law, Stevenson is automatically removed from office.  

Speaker Silver Urges Delay Of NY Student Database

Dec 20, 2013

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has sent a letter to New York Education Commissioner John King Jr. saying the department should hold off on transferring sensitive student information to a new statewide database.

The letter, also signed by nearly 50 Assembly Democrats, says the lawmakers were swayed by testimony about potential flaws in the plan to share data with Atlanta-based InBloom.

Opponents say it's too risky to store student data in servers in the so-called cloud, accessed through the Internet.

5/30/13 - Panel

May 30, 2013

  Today's panelists are WAMC’s Alan Chartock, Editor of the Daily Gazette, Judy Patrick, and Times Union Capitol Reporter, Jimmy Vielkind. Ray Graf moderates.

Topics include:
Former Bush Official Said to Be Obama Pick to Lead F.B.I.
Holder Faces New Round of Criticism After Leak Inquiries
A Second Democrat Calls for Silver to Resign
CSEA attacks Cuomo tax-free zone plan
Saratoga racino expansion's inclusion of theater space
Cuomo's new tax free zones
The end of the NY legislative session
Gloversville ice cream trial

NY Speaker Issues Apologizes For Sex Harass Case

May 21, 2013
wikipedia commons

New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has issued an apology for his handling of a sexual harassment case that spanned years involving at least four women staffers before it was detected.

Silver specifically apologized for the $103,000 secret settlement he crafted last summer to end the first accusations against Assemblyman Vito Lopez and for failing to stop subsequent incidents claimed by more women staffers.

"That I allowed this system to be bypassed in the first instance, even though I believed we were acting in good faith, was a failure on my part," said Silver.

NY Pol Accused Of Serial Sex Harassment To Resign

May 20, 2013

A New York assemblyman accused of sexually harassing young female staffers for years says he will resign before he's expelled from the Legislature.

Assemblyman Vito Lopez informed leaders on Saturday he will resign effective this morning.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver had planned a rare expulsion proceeding against Lopez beginning today.

Lopez was once a powerful Brooklyn Democratic leader and has been in the Assembly's Democratic majority since 1984.

NY Assembly Speaker To Propose Lopez Removal

May 17, 2013
wikipedia commons

New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is proposing that state lawmakers expel Assemblyman Vito Lopez, who is accused of sexual harassment.

Silver is also asking the Assembly to consider the full investigative report, which was critical of Silver's handling of the Lopez case. He says he'll introduce legislation today, which would be acted on Monday.

The Legislative Ethics Commission released its report on the sexual harassment allegations against Assemblyman Vito Lopez.  It’s conclusions have New York’s  National Organization for Women calling for a vote of no confidence against the still serving Assemblyman, and the Republicans calling for Silver to resign.

Pat Arnow

New York Governor Cuomo outlined the details of his plan to site three gambling casinos upstate.

Cuomo, joined by union and business leaders, and representatives from county governments, offered more details of a plan to build three new gambling casinos. Cuomo says he wants to limit the locations to upstate regions for now, to prop up the failing economy.  The governor says upstate needs jobs like it needs “oxygen.” And he says having a downstate location would devalue the upstate centers.

NY Ethics Board: Lopez Sex Report Will Be Public

May 1, 2013
Jane Park/creative commons

The New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics board says its report into accusations that Assemblyman Vito Lopez sexually harassed young, women staffers will soon be made public.

The state Joint Commission on Public Ethics report is now in the hands of the Legislative Ethics Commission, which could take action against Lopez.

Under law, JCOPE must provide more time for the Legislative Ethics Commission to consider the report and any sanctions. But that period ends in mid-May and the report becomes public at that point.