You may recall the unpleasant bit of Democratic Party history when former New York Assembly Speaker and Democratic power broker Sheldon Silver was convicted by a jury of his peers on multiple counts of corruption and removed from office. Silver was the man who, for decades, essentially ran the Democratic Party in the Empire State behind the curtains, determining who received state government dollars, which legislators received plum committee assignments and which bills would see the light of day for a vote. He also tightly controlled the flow of budget money, much to his own benefit.
Well, his trial date is coming up quickly. He’s expected to do a fair stretch in the crowbar hotel despite his advanced age and that’s going to pose some problems for his schedule. Being “unavailable for events” for any length of time will likely prove especially problematic for Silver, with one date in particular being quite inconvenient. That’s July 25th… the date of the Democrats’ big convention in Philadelphia. You see, Mr. Silver is a Superdelegate for Hillary Clinton and I’m not sure they let you out of jail for things like that.
Once one of the most powerful Democrats in the state, former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has long been a member of the Democratic National Committee. Despite his conviction on federal corruption charges, he’s still a DNC member and is entitled to his superdelegate slot.
The Point has learned that Silver has not resigned from the prestigious DNC post, so the party, which doesn’t have an official process for removing members who are felons, is trying to figure out how to oust him.
If not, the hot potato will go to the DNC credentials committee, which will have to decide whether to seat Silver at the convention.
Assuming anyone even asks Hillary about this I have no doubt that she’ll be able to quickly disavow any support from Silver. (She’s no stranger to throwing people under the bus. See: Emanuel, Rahm.) But the party seems to have very little in the way of options if Silver doesn’t feel like relinquishing his status as a superdelegate. There’s no provision in the rules for removing one of these democracy bending party bosses, so Sheldon can choose to be the toad at the garden party if he wishes.
Plus, Hillary and Sheldon go back a long way.
In 2008, Silver endorsed Clinton’s presidential campaign.
And in 2000, Silver was integral in Clinton’s Senate campaign. According to The New York Times, Silver helped Hillary lobby members of the state assembly for their support:
The Clinton side was equally persistent, he said. On Monday night, he held what he described as an emotional two-hour session with Hillary Rodham Clinton at the Manhattan law offices of Sheldon Silver, the Assembly speaker.
In the end this likely won’t have a big impact on the race since the history between these two was pretty much baked into the cake from the beginning. But it does manage to yet again highlight the problematic structure of the Democrats’ primary system. These superdelegates are in place to make sure that the party leadership keeps their thumb on the scale. When one of them turns out to be a corrupt old jailbird they take yet another black eye.