Speaker Sheldon Silver will delegate his duties to some of the state Assembly’s senior Democrats, but a spokesman says he won’t be relinquishing his title as he fights federal corruption charges.
Silver, D-Manhattan, has been faced with increasing pressure to give up his role as the Assembly’s leader after he was charged Thursday for allegedly using his influence to collect $6 million from private law firms without performing legal work in return.
Around 11:50 p.m. Sunday, spokesman Michael Whyland confirmed Silver would hand over his responsibilities, but said Silver won’t be stepping down as speaker — a post he’s held since 1994.
“The Speaker is not stepping down,” Whyland said in a statement. “He is appointing a group of senior members to undertake various responsibilities such as budget negotiations to ensure a timely spending plan for the state.”
The New York Daily News and Capital New York reported five lawmakers will help lead the chamber, including Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle, D-Irondequoit, Monroe County, and Assemblyman Herman Farrell, D-Manhattan, who will take over budget negotiations.
The arrangement will be discussed in private among the Assembly’s 106 Democrats on Monday, when Silver is expected to return to the state Capitol for the first time since he was charged.
Whyland said the new arrangement “will give him the flexibility he needs so that he can defend himself against these charges.” He did not confirm which Assembly members will share responsibilities, but said Silver is “confident that he will be found innocent.”
Top Assembly Democrats, including Morelle, held a news conference Thursday to pledge support for Silver continuing as speaker. But as calls for Silver’s resignation grew louder, some Democrats had second thoughts over the weekend, with some privately expressing their desire that Silver back away from his leadership role.
Should he hang on his role through next year, Silver would become the state’s longest-tenured Assembly speaker ever.
(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)