Despite arrest, Assembly Democrats back Sheldon Silver

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Dozens of Assembly Democrats stood together Thursday to support Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver hours after he was arrested on federal corruption charges.

After meeting for 90 minutes behind closed doors, members of the Assembly’s Democratic conference pledged support for the Manhattan Democrat after federal prosecutors accused him of accepting $6 million from law firms without doing legal work in return.

“I’m continuing to support the speaker and I would say that the members overwhelmingly, in the conversation that we just had, are continuing their support,” said Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle, D-Irondequoit, Monroe County. “There is a strong feeling, as I think we should all reflect on, that there is a presumption of innocence. We have every confidence that the speaker is going to fill his role with distinction.”

Democrats currently hold 106 seats in the Assembly’s 150-seat chamber. Silver has held the top role of speaker since 1994, and would become the longest-tenured speaker in history should he continue through 2016.

Morelle, the Assembly’s second-in-command, was flanked by about 30 Assembly Democrats as he backed the speaker. He was first appointed to his post by Silver in 2013.

The Assembly canceled its planned session Thursday, though lawmakers said they expect Silver to return when they come back to Albany on Monday.

Not all Democrats were supportive of the message, however. Assemblyman Charles Barron, D-Brooklyn, told reporters he wasn’t on board with the conference’s message. He doesn’t think Silver should continue as speaker, though Barron didn’t vote for Silver when he was re-elected to his post in December.

“We believe, and I’ve always believed, innocent before proven guilty,” Barron said. “But I didn’t think he should be speaker in the first place.”

Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton, D-Ithaca, was not among those who stood with her Democratic colleagues at the Thursday news conference. She said she was “shocked” to hear of Silver’s arrest and that she is “withholding judgement.”

“I know the speaker from his public work, from all the good work protecting the environment, his work on fracking, his work on public education and defending our public schools and teachers,” Lifton said. “I don’t really know anything about his private law practice or anything like that. I think we’re obviously going to get more information in the days ahead and I’ll be able to make a judgment call.”

Several Republicans called on Silver to step down as speaker, including Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, R-Canandaigua, Ontario County, who said Silver stepping down would be “in the best interest of the Assembly.”

Assemblywoman Sandra Galef, D-Ossining, Westchester County, said she’s confident the chamber will continue to function well despite Silver’s arrest.

“We have talented people in leadership positions, committee chairmanships and so on, and we’ve all been involved in the past,” Galef said. “So it’s not any different. We will be totally involved.”

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  1. Sandra Galef ought to be run out of town too for those comments. And she’s a women. Talk about not watching out for your own. These Democrats will do anything to make a buck and to hold onto power.

    Shameful is what it is and I bet Senator George Latimer, if still in that chamber, would’ve supported the speaker whole-heartedly.

  2. Cuomo has a lot of explaining to do. He never explained why the Moreland Commission was disbanded so abruptly and now I think he will have to answer for that and a lot more. Let’s hear it for Preet! Innocent until proven guilty, I understand, but Silver has used the State as a piggy bank for himself. And, he was quick to pay money to “absolve” two sexual cretins Lopez and (?) Let’s hope we hear more from Preet Bharara. This should just be the beginning of Albany housecleaning!

  3. A y- nom - a - nis on

    Cuomo had to know and tried to sequester the evidence by disbanding the moorland commission… we want a recall election Rob Astorino For Governor

  4. Heard Latimer on WFAS say Silver should step aside. I guess maryjane-dollie-i95 has a Latimer fixation. He’s not in the Assembly, babe.

  5. To all these Republicans who are deliriously happy: How bout calling for the resignation of Senate #2 GOP Tom libous. He’s been under Federal indictment. Or waiting for the indictment of recently departed #3 GOP senator George Maziarz. Didn’t hear your loud voices when Congressman Grimm plead guilty to a felony charge. I did hear you cheer when GOP Joe Bruno was let out scot-free.

    Most of these voices are people who disagree w Democratic policies and thereby want to throw any and all Dems out of office so they can get the policies they want.

    Don’t worry. Republocrat Cuomo will give you what you want (except for hydrofracking). He’s done more to diminish the Dems than anyone.

  6. Sheldon Silver, his law firm, and fracking keeping in mind that land prices skyrocket once high volume hydraulic fracturing take place – http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20100107006440/en/Weitz-Luxenberg-Alerts-Public-Potential-Hazards-Hydraulic#.VMGXQi7lqZj Cuomo’s big campaign donors are in the real estate business……follow the money….What better way for Silver’s law firm to drum up business but by creating a firestorm of fear? Remember also that the NY Assembly which Silver rules with and iron fist religiously voted FOR a ban on fracking every year.

  7. The Charge of the SILVER Brigade

    Half a league, half a league,
    Half a league onward,
    All in the valley of The FEDS
    Rode the Hundred.and Six
    “Forward, the SILVER Brigade!
    “Charge for the guns!” he said:
    Into the valley of The FEDS
    Rode the Hundred and Six

    “Forward, the SILVER Brigade!”
    Was there a man dismay’d?
    Not tho’ the MEMBER knew
    Someone had blunder’d:
    Theirs not to make reply,
    Theirs not to reason why,
    Theirs but to do and die:
    Into the valley of The FEDS
    Rode the Hundred and Six

    FEDS to right of them,
    FEDS to left of them,
    FEDS in front of them
    Volley’d and thunder’d;
    Storm’d at with shot and shell,
    Boldly they rode and well,
    Into the jaws of PREET,
    Into the mouth of Hell
    Rode the Hundred and Six

    Flash’d all their sabres bare,
    Flash’d as they turn’d in air,
    Sabring the gunners there,
    Charging The FEDS, while
    All the PRESS wonder’d:
    Plunged in the battery-smoke
    Right thro’ the line they broke;
    Upstate’r and Downstate’r
    Reel’d from the sabre stroke
    Shatter’d and sunder’d.
    Then they rode back, but not
    Not the Hundred and Six.

    FEDS to right of them,
    FEDS to left of them,
    FEDS behind them
    Volley’d and thunder’d;
    Storm’d at with shot and shell,
    While UpState’r and DownState’r fell,
    They that had fought so well
    Came thro’ the jaws of PREET
    Back from the mouth of Hell,
    All that was left of them,
    Left of Hundred and Six

    When can their glory fade?
    O the wild charge they made!
    All the PRESS wondered.
    Honour the charge they made,
    Honour the SILVER Brigade,
    Noble Hundred and Six.

    Before there was the “Oracle of Delphi” there was Count VJ Machiavelli

    VJ Machiavelli

    Follow me on Twitter
    @VJMACHIAVELLI
    #NoMoreSchumer

  8. Ollie, stay on topic, we’re talking about the guy who got arrested,, thinks he’s above the law and doesn’t think he did anything wrong, Shelly Silver.

    And the Feds obviously had a weak case against Bruno, that’s why they couldn’t keep him in jail.

  9. Not one spine among them. Too afraid to lose their perks should Silver choose to hang on. Hey, Assembly – if you throw the rat out of his chairmanship, what do you have to fear?

  10. The rest of them must be looking over there shoulder wondering who the next one will be. Looking forward to PREET’S next installment.