Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is under federal investigation -- again

By LOUIS FLORES

New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is reportedly under federal investigation for having failed to disclose outside income he was paid by a speciality law firm specializing in a legal practise in which Speaker Silver, a lawyer, has no experience, according to a report published by The New York Times.

The two lawyers listed on the Web site of the speciality law firm, Goldberg & Iryami, P.C., focus on real estate tax certiorari, an area of law where attorneys challenge tax assessments.  For years, Speaker Silver has reported that he practices law with the plaintiffs' personal injury law firm of Weitz & Luxenberg.  

A name partner of the speciality law firm, Jay Arthur Goldberg, is a some-time campaign contributor of Speaker Silver, and Mr. Goldberg has represented the co-op building, where Speaker Silver owns an apartment, according to the report in The New York Times.

Following is a map of the complicated relationships described in the report.

Undisclosed outside income has sometimes been used to disguise political payoffs and conflicts of interest, according to The New York Times.

The federal investigation into outside incomes of state legislators was begun by the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption, a panel which the administration of Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-New York) reportedly obstructed before Gov. Cuomo shut it down to loud complaints by government reform activists.  According to The New York Times, Speaker Silver has been the target of at least two prior federal investigations that resulted in no criminal charges.

Two weeks ago, Progress Queens reported that legal fees paid in connection with fighting subpoenas issued by the Moreland Commission and the resulting federal investigation have reached approximately $1.4 million.  

The law firm Kasowitz Benson Torres & Friedman LLP had been retained by Speaker Silver to represent the New York State Assembly to fight subpoenas issued by the now-defunct Moreland Commission seeking information about sources of outside income earned by state legislators.  Amongst the clients Kasowitz Benson has represented in connection with that matter was Weitz & Luxenberg, where Speaker Silver is employed as of counsel.  

Requests for information and comments were sent to Speaker Silver and to the U.S. Attorney's Office too late to expect an immediate response, but any information received will appear in an update by Progress Queens.