Indignant, Speaker Sheldon Silver rejects calls for him to resign leadership post

By LOUIS FLORES

Despite calls for him to relinquish his leadership post, New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Lower East Side) said Monday night that he would refuse to step down as speaker.

"I am the speaker," Speaker Silver told reporters, in part, late Monday night, having separately said, "I have not told anyone I would resign,” adding, “I intend to be fully exonerated, and that is the message.”

Monday night, Progress Queens polled the Queens delegation to the State Assembly, asking Assemblymembers whether they either continued to support or have come to cease to support Speaker Silver maintaining his leadership position following his arrest on Thursday on five counts of corruption.

Thus far, no Assemblymember from the Queens delegation has publicly declared to Progress Queens where they stand.

In the criminal complaint filed by federal prosecutors, which ordered Speaker Silver's arrest, a prominent luxury real estate development company, believed to be Glenwood Management Corp., and a prominent lobbyist, believed to be Brian Meara, are cooperating with federal prosecutors in the case against Speaker Silver.

Glenwood Management is headed by Leonard Litwin, one of the state's most generous political contributors.

Mr. Meara is a close political ally of U.S. Representative Joseph Crowley (D-Queens), who is chair of the Queens Democratic Party.  Mr. Meara's brother, Chuck Meara, was once chief of staff to former New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-West Village). 

Amongst the charges against Speaker Silver are allegations that he steered budget allocations from a secret slush fund to a medical clinic in an apparent quid pro quo where the clinic's physician referred asbestos patients to Speaker Silver's law firm, generating legal fees that Speaker Silver pocketed.

Years ago, former City Council Speaker Quinn was reportedly engaged in circuitous flow of slush funds when she oversaw the disbursements of taxpayer money from her City Council slush fund to Friends of the High Line, a nonprofit that oversees the High Line Park in Manhattan.  The nonprofit was at one time being advised by former Speaker Quinn's close friend and lobbyist, Emily Giske.  Ms. Giske was a close political advisor to former Speaker Quinn, but it wasn't clear how former Speaker Quinn was compensating Ms. Giske for her services.  City regulations forbid lobbyists from providing gifts to elected officials, and elected officials are barred from receiving gifts from lobbyists, who do business with New York City.  Amongst the elected officials Friends of the High Line were paying Ms. Giske to lobby was the former City Council speaker herself, raising the question of whether Speaker Quinn was using Friends of the High Line park as a pass-through entity to enrich Ms. Giske.

The federal investigation into former Speaker Quinn's role in using fictitious names to disguise the City Council slush fund essentially ended quietly in 2008, it was confirmed in 2011 by Sally Goldenberg, a former reporter at The New York Post.

Since his arrest, Speaker Silver has insisted he is innocent.