Hawley, other GOP assemblymen call on Sheldon Silver to resign

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 January 2015 at 12:00 am

Sheldon Silver, the speaker of the State Assembly for about two decades, was arrested today on public corruption charges and accused of using his position to obtain millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks.

The speaker is accused of accepting $4 million in bribes and kickbacks.

State Assemblyman Steve Hawley issued a statement calling on Silver to resign.

“Speaker Silver owes it to his legislative colleagues, the State of New York and his tens of thousands of constituents to step down as speaker,” Hawley said. “Speaker Silver owes the public an explanation for his actions, and it would be outrageous and irresponsible to allow him to continue his Assembly duties while he faces a possible indictment for corruption charges.

“It is time for members of the Assembly Majority to do the right thing and elect new leadership that will serve our state with a greater sense of honor and dignity. We have important business to conduct as public representatives, and the upcoming budget negotiations deserve our utmost attention. Silver’s resignation would allow us to continue the people’s business.”

Hawley made his comments after Silver turned himself in to the FBI this morning following an investigation about incomplete financial disclosures required by state law.

Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, R-Canandaigua, said in a statement that it’s “imperative” Silver step aside as speaker.

“His resignation as speaker is in the best interest of the Assembly, of the state and the best way for us to conduct the business that we are elected to do. We cannot afford this distraction with the important business before the Assembly and the people of New York state.”

Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle, D-Irondequoit, said Assembly Democrats support Silver.

“I am continuing to support the speaker and I would say that the members, overwhelmingly in the conversation that we just had, are continuing their support,” Morelle said at a news conference. “There is a strong feeling, as I think we should all reflect on, that there is a presumption of innocence and we have every confidence that the speaker is going to continue to fulfill his role with distinction.”

Assemblyman David DiPietro, R-East Aurora, also called on Silver to resign.

“Speaker Silver, D-Manhattan, is appearing in court today on bribery and fraud charges. Does this surprise anyone?” DiPietro said. “It’s more of the New York City corruption issues being brought to Albany. The people deserve better than this. You cannot expect Silver to negotiate in good faith with anyone. He must step down effective immediately. This chamber can’t afford any more embarrassment by this man.”

Common Cause of New York issued this statement with Silver’s arrest:

“The arrest of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver by federal authorities for undisclosed income further reveals the crucial role the Moreland Commission played in bringing corruption in New York State government to light,” said Executive Director Susan Lerner. “This sad development underscores, yet again, the sorry state of ethics enforcement in New York.

“These circumstances make it particularly egregious that the statutorily mandated Review Commission which was supposed to have been appointed by the governor and legislative leaders to review and evaluate the performance of the Joint Commission on Public Ethics and the Legislative Ethics Commission was never named. Common Cause/NY supports requiring New York’s Legislature to work full-time for New Yorkers along with strict limits on outside income.

“In the meantime, New York State needs stricter disclosure laws requiring elected officials to fully open their books to public scrutiny and a wholesale overhaul of ethics laws and enforcement. New Yorkers deserve a Legislature that does not function under a persistent and permanent ethical cloud. Common Cause/New York urges the U.S. Attorney and Speaker Silver to do everything possible to facilitate an early trial to resolve these troubling charges.”