By LOUIS FLORES
After an evening conclave of the Democratic Party conference of New York State Assembly, reports indicated that Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Lower East Side) would be asked to step down from his leadership post, or else Assemblymembers would take action to remove Speaker Silver from the speakership.
On Monday night, Assemblymember Kenneth Zebrowski (D-New City) said, "I think the consensus is that the speaker cannot continue as speaker."
Assemblymember Charles Barron (D-Brooklyn) said he expected Speaker Silver would resign.
A request for comment was e-mailed very late to Speaker Silver's office. Any response received by Progress Queens will be noted in a subsequent report.
It remains unclear which Democratic Party Assemblymember would assume the speakership ; social media was full of speculation.
The rapid political reversal for Speaker Silver follows his arrest on Thursday on five counts of corruption. Speaker Silver's arrest was made after federal prosecutors filed a criminal complaint, charging that Speaker Silver had exploited his office over the period of several years for financial gain to the tune of millions of dollars.
One day after Speaker Silver's arrest, the top federal prosecutor for New York's southern district, Preet Bharara, publicly denounced the "three men in a room" arrangement that Speaker Silver used to ride roughshod over democracy and to thwart reforms in Albany.
“Why do officials, who are supposed to hold the public trust, and who are supposed to know better, keep breaking the law, even knowing what the consequences will be ?” U.S. Attorney Bharara asked, rhetorically, in his remarks on Friday at New York Law School.
Since his arrest, Speaker Silver has asserted that he is innocent of the charges filed against him.
At the press conference announcing Speaker Silver's arrest, U.S. Attorney Bharara asked voters to "stay tuned," because he promised more action to clean up corruption up in Albany.
U.S. Attorney Bharara said on Friday that his office has been receiving requests for immunity in respect of his office's on-going federal investigations into political corruption across New York state.
Speaker Silver's arrest rapidly followed reports that he was under investigation, and it followed months of prosecutorial scrutiny on Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-New York) and the role of his administration in reportedly obstructing and later prematurely closing the corruption-fighting work of the Moreland Commission, actions for which Governor Cuomo was himself reportedly under investigation.
Government reform activists expect more corruption arrests to follow very soon. According to federal law, 18 U.S. Code § 3161(b), federal prosecutors have 30 days from making an arrest to file a criminal indictment. Activists expect that the federal indictment may contain more information about potential witnesses and/or other evidence that the federal government has collected in its case against Speaker Silver.
Before federal prosecutors make public the indictment in Speaker Silver's case, activists believe that federal prosecutors will make more arrests before making sensitive information public about their corruption investigations of Albany officials. If there is sensitive information in the indictment in Speaker Silver's case, once that information is made public, it may compromise the position of federal prosecutors relative to investigations they may be conducting against other Albany officials.
Speaker Silver was arrested Thursday, January 22, meaning that U.S. Attorney Bharara's nominal deadline for filing the indictment would be Saturday, February 21. However, because that day falls on a week-end, the indictment may actually be due on Monday, February 23, granting U.S. Attorney Bharara and the prosecutors in his office two extra days within which to conclude further investigations before making additional, expected arrests.
Before the end of the day, Newsday reported that some members of Speaker Silver's staff had been served with federal subpoenas.