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Sheldon Silver Investigated by FBI for Law Firm Donations
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Assembly Speaker under investigation

Summary: Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is being investigated for receiving income from a law firm that he failed to disclose.

Though the Moreland Commission panel, created to investigate corruption in Albany, was shut down by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, its work nevertheless was handed over to Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara’s office: and it looks like they found the corruption they were after. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, 70, who lead the lower house in Albany for 20 years, seems to have hid some of his income. Though he makes $121,000 a year as a speaker, and $650,000 a year as an attorney for Weitz & Luxenberg, all of which was duly disclosed, his relationship with another firm, Goldberg & Tryami P.C., appears more ambiguous. It seems Silver has received money from them, a total of $7,600 since 2001, which he did not disclose.

  
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Goldberg specializes in “tax certiorari,” and while the payments from the firm were described as “not substantial,” as a source told the New York Times, this is still an example of the corruption the Moreland Commission was created to discover.

“The law is pretty clear,” said Blair Horner, the legislative director of New York Public Interest Research Group, a government watchdog organization, as Bloomberg reported. “The speaker either made a big mistake or he’s consciously hiding his relationship with the firm. Either way, it would be a violation.”

Silver’s relationship to the firm is indeed ambiguous. The firm, which has only two lawyers, Jay Arthur Goldberg and Dara Iryami, wanted tax reductions for properties in the Lower East Side, which Silver represents. The firm has also represented Silver’s co-op and the building he uses to house his campaign committee.

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Nevertheless, the investigation is “moving along slowly,” as the source to the New York Times said.

The smoking gun amounts to something more like a firecracker, considering the numbers involved, but it might by the string that unstitches the sweater.



The six donations made to Silver since 2001 include a recent one, this last February, of $1,800. That these donations have gone unmentioned for so long may be a systematic cover up, or, possibly, a mistake on Silver’ part.

As John Kaehny, executive director of Reinvent Albany, said, “It’s cut and dried whether or not he disclosed this income.” So whether or not it was a large amount of money, it is what it is, exactly what the probe was seeking: corruption in the government.

Will this investigation ruin Sheldon Silver?

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