Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Monday, November 30, 2015

The Silver Conviction On All Seven Corruption Counts Should Give Cuomo Pause

From Weiser and Craig at the NY Times:

Sheldon Silver, an assemblyman who rose from the Lower East Side of Manhattan to become one of New York State’s most powerful politicians, was found guilty on Monday of federal corruption charges, ending a trial that was the capstone of the government’s efforts to expose the seamy culture of influence-peddling in Albany.

After a five-week trial in Federal District Court in Manhattan, the end came rather quickly and unceremoniously for Mr. Silver, 71, a Democrat who served more than two decades as Assembly speaker before he was forced to resign from the post after his arrest in January.

Mr. Silver, who must automatically forfeit the legislative seat to which he was first elected nearly 40 years ago, was convicted on all seven counts of honest services fraud, extortion and money laundering filed against him.

When word came that the jury had reached a verdict, Mr. Silver fidgeted in his chair, clenched his jaw, shook his head, sighed and cast furtive glances toward Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, who had taken a seat at the rear of the courtroom just before the verdict was read.

After the fourth guilty pronouncement by the jury forewoman, Mr. Silver’s shoulders sagged visibly inside his baggy navy blue suit.

 Mr. Bharara released a succinct statement after the verdict: “Today, Sheldon Silver got justice, and at long last, so did the people of New York.”

No, the people of New York haven't gotten justice yet.

Former state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos is still on trial for corruption, though with the wiretaps and boatloads of evidence against him and his son, I would think convictions in the Skelos trial are a done deal.

That leaves only the third man in the room, Sheriff Andy Cuomo, not yet under indictment and/or convicted.

US Attorney Preet Bharara is looking into Cuomo on a couple of counts:

First for the Moreland shutdown in return for the budget deal with the former Assembly Speaker, now-convicted felon, Sheldon Silver, and the under-indictment and soon-to-be convicted former state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.

The head of the Moreland Commission was feeding Cuomo's office everything that was going on - including the dirt they were digging up on Silver and Skelos - but Cuomo made the deal to shut down the commission anyway in return for a budget deal.

Had Bharara not picked up the investigation, Silver would have continued on in power, as would have Skelos.

Now with Silver convicted on all seven counts, that makes the budget shutdown and the subsequent tampering Cuomo did with the commissioners all the more suspect.

And then there's the investigation into Cuomo's donors in the Buffalo Billion Project who seem to have had the bidding process rigged for them.

That investigation is ongoing, and while we don't know of any public evidence of wrongdoing by anybody in the Cuomo administration, we also don't know what the feds have behind the scenes.

Remember, nobody knew what they had on Silver or Skelos either until the indictments.

None of this means an indictment of Cuomo administration officials or Cuomo himself is imminent.

But the conviction of Shelly Silver on all seven counts ought to give Cuomo pause considering all the smoke around the Moreland Commission shutdown and the Buffalo Billion Project.


  1. It's been a year and now a conviction. I think at this point, it's a pretty safe bet that Preet isn't going after Andy at all and that the two of them are probably playing for the same general team. Cuomo has, for almost a year now mond you, enjoyed more political power than ever before up in Albany. Both of the people who pose a challenge to him in legislative negotiations are gone and his swagger is so profound that it's beginning to offend people as old ugly Andy. Look; Cuomo isn't next. Not by a long shot. In fact, after some naked pandering and an uptick in the poll numbers, you'll find that Emperor Palpatine is just getting started.

    1. You may right about Bharara not going after Cuomo (though don't kid yourself, the Buffalo Billion leaks came from somewhere and I wouldn't feel too good about stuff if I was Kaloyeros at SUNY Poly), but they're not playing on the same team.

      Cuomo has no team - it's TEAM CUOMO only.

      Bharara, ambitious, press-savvy, and as egotistical as Cuomo, isn't playing on that team.

      That said, what do you make of the Buffalo Billion leaks a couple of months back, with the feds looking into Andy's donors and the rigged Buffalo Billion bids?

      Did Bharara leak that story just for fun?

      The Skelos leak came four months before he was indicted.

      The Silver leak came a couple of months before he was indicted.

      Where two months out of the Buffalo Billion leaks.

      While I wouldn't bet the mortgage that something comes out of that investigation, I wouldn't say it's a done deal that nothing's coming out of it either.

      Might not be Cuomo.

      But I bet it's somebody in Albany.

    2. My take? Preet is playing politics AS IF he is an elected official. The ego is a crazy thing. But how many leaks were there re Cuomo last year that never came to pass? It's pretty simple for me with the wisdom of hindsight; they rarely go after the executive (Illinois notwithstanding) and if he was going after the sheriff he would have come by now.

      Just to point out, they are both probably in bed with the finance sector. I feel like they take their marching orders from there.

    3. Bharara is sympathetic to finance, that's true. But I maintain that just because Cuomo's sympathetic to finance as well, that doesn't make them allies.

      Also, just because finance backed Cuomo because he was so good to them doesn't mean they will continue to do so.

      They surely can get what they want out of other pols - perhaps even Bharara himself if he decided to run for governor.

      Whatever Bharara's game is (and it definitely is politics - he's out of Schumer's shop, after all), I would be careful thinking it's aligned with Andy Cuomo's.

      That said, you may be right that nothing happens to Cuomo.

      We'll see if anything comes of the Buffalo Billion investigation.

      One thing I know: if I were Alain Kaloyeros at SUNY Poly, I'd be worried.

  2. I am really not optimistic that Bharara will go after Cuomo.

  3. I think Preet got all his ammo from Andy, himself. Silver was right when he called Moreland a fishing expedition. I bet all the goodies Andy scooped up he passed right a long to Preet. Had Andy actually prosecuted it himself it would have been too naked of a power grab.

    Why would they do that? I don't know. I mean, it got Andy's school reform agenda through. And, the Obama administration likes that. I don't know what it is. But, the Obama DOJ really seems to like Cuomo. Preet has been nothing but a big assist to Cuomo. These indictments really intimidated the assembly. Cuomo seems to be able to put the finger on anybody, and Washinngton will swoop in and lock em up. Makes you think.

    1. No, Cuomo was not served politically by Bharara picking up the Moreland investigations. It made Cuomo look complicit by shutting down the commission even though they were investigating two of three men in a room. Also, politically, Cuomo got just as much as he wanted out of Silver and Skelos as he did from Heastie and Flanagan. So it didn't necessarily serve his interests to have them indicted.

      One thing I'll note about the DOJ. Cuomo's buddy Biden came to the state last month and stayed as far away from Cuomo as he could. Over the summer, the two were Thelma and Louise, so it was weird that Biden came to NY and Cuomo was kept away from him.

      Might mean nothing.

      But it was weird.

      Here are some links:

  4. Okay, I see your thinking on this. I just think he's getting a free-pass. And, it's not clear why. Look, taking down a Governer is a big deal, I get it. It can shake up a state's faith in democracy. But, they did it to that guy, Blegoiyovich a few years back. And, frankly Cuomo seems just as dirty as Rod B. Only difference is Cuomo is more connected. If he goes, he's bound to get the stink on some folks in DC.