Federal authorities are investigating Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-NY) over payments he received from a “law firm that seeks real estate tax reductions for commercial and residential properties in New York City.” Silver is the subject of an investigation which includes the FBI and prosecutors from U.S. attorney Preet Bharara’s office.
Silver received “substantial payments” over a decade from a small law firm named Goldberg & Iryami, P.C., but failed to list the earnings in his annual disclosures.
Prosecutors are trying to discern what Silver has been doing with the money.
Via the New York Times:
Federal authorities are investigating substantial payments made to the State Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver, by a small law firm that seeks real estate tax reductions for commercial and residential properties in New York City, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
Prosecutors from the United States attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York and agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation have found that the law firm, Goldberg & Iryami, P.C., has paid Mr. Silver the sums over roughly a decade, but that he did not list that income on his annual financial disclosure forms, as required, the people said.
The prosecutors, from the office of the United States attorney, Preet Bharara, and the F.B.I. agents were seeking to determine precisely what Mr. Silver, a Manhattan Democrat, has been doing for the payments, the people said. Spokesmen for the F.B.I. and Mr. Bharara’s office declined to comment.
Part-time work by legislators has long been a focus of federal investigators because corrupt lawmakers have used payments for ostensible part-time jobs or consulting work to mask political payoffs. It has also been a source of concern among government watchdog groups because of the potential for conflicts of interest.
Silver’s most recent financial disclosure forms indicate he earned roughly $650,000, while his annual salary as speaker rests at only $121,000.
The Times report adds:
The investigation into the Goldberg firm’s payments to Mr. Silver grew out of the work of the Moreland Commission, an anticorruption panel that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, created in 2013 but abruptly shut down in March. Before it was shut down, the commission had investigated how lawmakers earn money outside of Albany, though the inquiry was stymied by a legal challenge from lawmakers and their employers.
Cuomo abruptly shut down the Moreland Commission last April, a move that has been highly criticized, and even led to threats from Bharara that members of his administration could be charged with witness tampering or obstruction of justice.
Did Cuomo attempt to cut off any further investigation into Silver or any other colleagues who may have been earning money outside of Albany?
Silver is also the defendant in a sexual harassment lawsuit, in which it is alleged that he enabled members of the New York State Assembly to further victimize women by covering up lawmakers previous misdeeds. Both sides are negotiating a settlement as of recent reports.