As the coming corruption prosecution of former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver continues to take shape, the rats have been fleeing the ship. The Feds managed to keep things close to the vest as they prepared for this move, but now that the matter has made its way into the media it’s becoming increasingly clear that they’ve got the goods on him. (And we’re talking about a lot of goods here.) Silver’s fall has been rapid and complete in a way that long time Albany reporters wouldn’t have thought possible even a few weeks ago. But there is also a looming shadow over the Governor’s mansion, as Politico reports.
But one person who has worked closely with Silver didn’t attack or distance himself on this darkest of days for the speaker (who has expressed confidence in his eventual vindication). That would be Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“Obviously, it’s bad for the speaker,” Cuomo acknowledged Thursday. “But it’s also a bad reflection on government, and it adds to the negativity. And it adds to the cynicism and it adds to the ‘they’re all the same.’” Why exactly would Cuomo go to such lengths not to impugn the inscrutable Silver, with whom he is not particularly close?
They go on to correctly note that the most obvious answer to that question is the dubious end to the Moreland Commission, which Cuomo set up to investigate corruption in the state government before abruptly cancelling it when the sharks began swimming too close to Sliver’s office. It was reportedly the early work of the commission which gave the Feds the first threads they pulled on which led to Silver. This leads to what PJ Media’s Michael Walsh refers to as the uh-oh part.
If Silver provides new details about Cuomo’s role in the negotiations that led to the commission’s demise, especially if the speaker reveals that Cuomo or his top negotiators were aware of the criminality underlying Silver’s desire to kill the commission, Cuomo’s vulnerability to an obstruction of justice charge increases.
That’s only half of it. If Silver is willing to testify that Cuomo knowingly entered a deal to kill off the commission because they were getting close to the Speaker, an obstruction of justice charge would be enough to bring Cuomo down. But what if it went even further? What if the Governor’s office was involved in some of the same deals that Silver is charged with orchestrating? If Silver knows of any such things he has a powerful motivation to roll over. The man is 70 years old and he has absolutely zero desire to die in prison. If there’s anything that will convince the Feds to cut a deal where he gets off with a very short sentence or home arrest, it would be a charge against a bigger fish that would definitely stick. And in the New York pool, the only bigger fish is Cuomo.
In unrelated news, I’m fairly sure that Andrew Cuomo has cancelled his plans for a presidential exploration committee.