SHELDON SILVER SENTENCE

July 27, 2018 at 5:15 am

Former State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was once one of the most powerful politicians in New York. Tomorrow, he will be sentenced after being found guilty on charges of federal corruption. We have a preview of what promises to be a tense day in court and in Albany.

Aired on July 26, 2018.

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GOOD EVENING, AND WOKS TO
"METROFOCUS."
I'M JACK FORD.
A FALL FROM GRACE, WHERE JOE
PERCOCO, DEAN SKELLOS, ALSO
SHELDON SILVER, ALL FOUND GUILTY
OF CORRUPTION AND CONVICTED
GUILTY OF BREAKING THE LAW.
MATT RYAN HAS THE LATEST ON
SILVER AS HE PREPARES FOR

SENTENCING.

>> HI, JACK, IT'S BEEN THREE AND
A HALF YEARS SINCE THE NEWS
BROKE OF SHELDON SILVER'S
INDICTMENT.
HE WAS APPROACHING THE RECORD
FOR LONGEST SERVING ASSEMBLY
SPEAKER IN NEW YORK STATE
HISTORY.
HE WAS REGARDED BY MANY AS THE
MOST POWERFUL PERSON IN ALBANY,
AND YES, THAT INCLUDES ANY
GOVERNOR HE SERVED WITH.
BUT IN 2018 HE'S BEEN ALMOST
FORGOTTEN.
HIS NAME RARELY MENTIONED IN THE
HALLWAYS OF THE CAPITAL.
THE SAME GOES FOR THE FORMER
REPUBLICAN LEADER OF THE SENATE,
DEAN SKELLIS, HIMSELF ARRESTED
ON CORRUPTION CHARGES, FOUR
MONTHS OF HIS FELLOW LEGISLATIVE
LEADER.
BOTH WERE TRIED, FOUND GUILTY,
HAD THEIR CONVICTIONS
OVERTURNED, AND THEN TRIED AGAIN
WITH THE SAME RESULT.
NOW, SURELY YOU WOULD EXPECT
SWIFT ACTION TO BE TAKEN BY THE
GOVERNOR AND BOTH CHAMBERS AFTER
SUCH A SHOCKING DOUBLE DOWNFALL
LIKE THIS.
AFTER ALL, THE ARREST OF ONE
LEGISLATOR CASTS A BAD SHADOW ON
EVERY LAWMAKER.
BUT THE LEGACY OF THEIR
DOWNFALL, RIGHT NOW AT LEAST, IS
SILENCE.
NO MAJOR ANTI CORRUPTION
LEGISLATION HAS BEEN PASSED BY
EITHER POLITICAL PARTY IN POWER
AT THE CAPITAL.
NOT FOR LAWMAKERS, NOR HAS THERE
BEEN ANY ADDITIONAL OVERSIGHT OF
THE GOVERNOR'S ECONOMIC
DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS WHICH HAVE
COME UNDER THE SCRUTINY SINCE
THE CONVICTION OF HIS FORMER TOP
AIDE JOE PERCOCO AND ARRESTS AND
GUILTY VERDICTS, INCLUDING THE
FORMER HEAD OF THE SUNY
POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE.

SENATE DEMOCRATS, NOW AS THEY
GAIN CONTROL AFTER THE NOVEMBER
ELECTIONS, WHICH MANY THINK IS
POSSIBLE, WE CAN SEE IF THEY
OFFER UP THE SAME BILLS.
BUT WITH THE LEGISLATURE GONE
FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR THERE
IS LITTLE CHANCE THAT HAPPENS.
SO DESPITE THE ARRESTS AND
CONVICTIONS OF ALL OF THESE
INDIVIDUALS IN THE LAST THREE
YEARS, INCLUDING SHELDON SILVER
WHO NOW AWAITS HIS SENTENCING,
THE RESPONSE FROM ALBANY HAS
BEEN DEAFENING SILENCE.
IN ALBANY FOR "METROFOCUS," I'M
MATT RYAN.
>>> GOVERNOR CUOMO'S TWO-TERM
TENURE HAS COINCIDED WITH THESE
TRIALS.
MIGHT COME WITH INCREASED
SCRUTINY WITH ELECTION TIME.
BUT THE INCREASED CORRUPTION
APPEARS TO BE SOMETHING THE
GOVERNOR IS BRUSHING OFF.
HE STATED, QUOTE, THERE HAS
NEVER BEEN A SUGGESTION I DID I
DIDN'T GO WRONG.
THE GOVERNOR AND LAWMAKE HAVE
FAILED TO ADOPT PROPOSED
MEASURES WHICH WOULD TOUGHEN
STATE OVERSIGHT OF STATE
CONTRACTS AND APPOINT AN
INDEPENDENT MONITOR FOR ETHICS
AND ELECTION LAWS.
WHY?
WELL, IT'S A BIT PUZZLING.
FOR THAT WE TURN TO BLARE
HORNER, THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
OF THE NEW YORK PUBLIC INTEREST
RESEARCH GROUP AND NONPARTISAN
WATCHDOG HOPEFULLY FOR THOUGHTS
AND ANSWERS.
>> THANKS FOR BEING HERE.
>> THANKS FOR HAVING ME.
>> THE NOTION OF CORRUPTION IN
ALBANY IS SOMETHING THAT'S BEEN
FLOATED FOR LITERALLY DECADES.
>> THAT'S RIGHT.
>> IT'S BECOME A PUNCHLINE FOR
SOME COMEDIANS HERE.
WITH THAT AS A BACKDROP, ARE YOU
SURPRISED BY THE NUMBER OF
ACTUAL CONVICTIONS WE'VE SEEN
TAKE PLACE IN THE LAST COUPLE
YEARS.
>> I'VE BEEN WORKING IN ALBANY
SINCE 1984.
THE CORRUPTION, YOU'RE
ABSOLUTELY RIGHT, HAS BEEN A
PROBLEM FOREVER.
AND IT'S SORT OF LIKE GRAVITY,
ALMOST A -- YOU KNOW, A FORCE OF
NATURE IN THE WAY POLITICS GETS
DONE.
BUT I'VE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING
LIKE WHAT'S HAPPENED IN THE MOST
RECENT, LET'S SAY, FIVE YEARS OR
SO.
WHEN U.S. ATTORNEY PRIPARARA
DECIDED TO FOCUS ON ALBANY, HE
HAS BROUGHT A NUMBER OF CASES,
DOZENS, LITERALLY DOZENS OF
CASES TO A HEAD.
AND THE HIGH PROFILE ONES YOU
JUST MENTIONED, THE TOP LEADERS
IN THE LEGISLATURE, TOP AIDES TO
THE GOVERNOR, NOTHING LIKE THIS
HAS EVER HAPPENED.
AND IT'S ASTONISHING TO ME THAT
THERE'S BEEN SO LITTLE REACTION
FROM EITHER THE EXECUTIVE OR THE
LEGISLATURE ON WHAT SHOULD BE
DONE.
>> WHY DO YOU THINK THAT IS?
START WITH THE EXECUTIVES AND
THEN GET TO THE LEGISLATORS.
WHAT DO YOU THINK HAS BEEN WHAT
MOST PEOPLE AGREE HAS BEEN VERY
LITTLE REACTION ON THE PART OF
THE GOVERNOR AND THE GOVERNOR'S
OFFICE.
>> WE'RE SPECULATING A BIT.
POP PSYCHOLOGY APPROACH TO IT.
THEY'VE MADE A POLITICAL
CALCULATION THAT THEY'RE NOT
GOING TO PAY A PRICE FOR NOT
DOING ANYTHING.
>> BECAUSE, AGAIN, WE SHOULD
REENFORCE WHAT THE GOVERNOR
SAID, NOTHING HAS TARGETED HIM
AT ALL.
IT'S BEEN LEGISLATORS HERE.
>> THAT'S RIGHT.
>> AND IT'S IMPORTANT WE KEEP
THAT IN MIND.
>> NONE OF THE LEADERS HAVE BEEN
IMPLICATED.
THE CURRENT LEADERS.
THIS IS THE LAST BUNCH THAT WENT
OFF AND THE GOVERNOR'S TOP
AIDES.
BUT THEY ARE, YOU KNOW, IT'S ONE
OF THOSE THINGS, I THINK, WHERE
THEY'RE LOOKING NOT TO ADD TOO
MUCH OXYGEN TO THE FIRE.
THE GOVERNOR KNOWS HE'S GOING TO
GET -- HE'S GOING TO HEAR FROM
IT FROM HIS CHALLENGERS, THE
REPUBLICAN CHALLENGER, THE
INDEPENDENT CHALLENGER, IN
PARTICULAR, HAVE REALLY BEEN
FORCEFUL ON THE ISSUE OF
CORRUPTION, EVEN AS PRIMARY
CHALLENGERS TALKED ABOUT IT AS
AN ISSUE.
BUT THE GOVERNOR, I THINK, AND
THE LEGISLATIVE LEADERS ARE NOT
WILLING TO ADD OXYGEN TO THAT
FIRE.
AND BY NOT TALKING ABOUT, OTHER
ISSUES COME UP, ALL OF THE
ANTICS THAT GO DOWN ON
WASHINGTON TO DISTRACT THE
PUBLIC FROM WHAT'S GOING ON IN
ALBANY.
THEY'RE JUST SORT OF HOPING THE
STORM WILL BLOW BY AND NO ONE
WILL HAVE TO PAY A PRICE.
>> WHAT ARE SOME PROPOSALS FROM
YOUR PERSPECTIVE THAT ARE THINGS
THE LEGISLATURE AND GOVERNOR
SHOULD BE LOOKING AT?
>> IN A NORMAL FUNCTIONING
DEMOCRACY THERE WOULD BE
HEARINGS, PROPOSALS WOULD BE
ADVANCED.
WE'VE LOOKED AT THINGS, AND
GIVEN, AS YOU MENTIONED, THE
SPEAKER -- THE SPORMER SPEAKER
OF THE ASSEMBLY, TOP AIDES TO
THE GOVERNOR, THERE'S NO ONE
SILVER BULLET TO THIS.
THERE'S A LOT OF PROBLEMS ACROSS
THE BOARD.
AND WHILE THE GOVERNOR IS RIGHT
THAT HE HASN'T BEEN IMPLICATED
IN ANYTHING, HE'S WRONG TO SAY
THAT THEREFORE NOTHING SHOULD
HAPPEN BECAUSE HOW COULD YOU
HAVE A SYSTEM WHERE THOSE CRIMES
OCCURRED, AND IT TAKES FEDERAL
PROSECUTORS TO COME IN AND DEAL
WITH IT?
SO WE'VE ARGUED FOR PROPOSALS TO
STRENGTHEN THE HAND OF THE STATE
COMPTROLLER, NEW YORK HAS A
SEPARATELY ELECTED COMPTROLLER
IN ITS CONSTITUTION.
WHY?
IT'S THAT THE NEW YORKERS WANT
AN INDEPENDENT FISCAL WATCHDOG.
THE GOVERNOR COMES IN IN 2011,
TRIMS THE POWERS BACK OF THE
COMPTROLLER, OPERATES IN THESE
QUASI SECRET DEVELOPMENT, AND
WE'VE HAD CORRUPTION.
END THE SECRECY, ENHANCE
ACCOUNTABILITY, ENHANCE
INDEPENDENT OVERSIGHT ON THE
CONTRACTING SIDE.
ON THE LEGISLATIVE SIDE OF THE
PROBLEM, THE ISSUES THERE ARE
ABOUT USING YOUR PUBLIC OFFICE
FOR YOUR PRIVATE GAIN.
YOU NEED INDEPENDENT ETHICS
WATCHDOG, LIMITS ON OUTSIDE
INCOME, AND CAMPAIGN FINANCE
CHANGES AS A BEGINNING START.

>> AS ALWAYS, OUR CONVERSATIONS
WITH YOU ALWAYS PROVIDE US
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT.
AND SOMETHING TO FOCUS ON.
OUR HOPE IS WE'LL GET YOU BACK
SOON AND SEE IF ANY OF THESE
THINGS ARE HAPPENING.
>> FINGERS ARE CROSSED.
>> BLARE, ALWAYS GOOD TO SEE
YOU, YOU BE WELL.
>> THANK YOU.