In the wake of his arrest on federal corruption charges last week, Sheldon Silver, the longtime Democratic speaker of the New York State Assembly, is stepping down temporarily. The move follows calls for his resignation from fellow Democrats and Republicans alike, as support for the longtime power broker dipped sharply amid reports of his pocketing millions in bribes.
The New York Times reports, “In an unusual arrangement, Mr. Silver would not quit his post. Instead, he would temporarily delegate his duties as speaker to a group of senior Assembly members.”
Under the plan, the Times explained, Silver would step back to fight the charges and the chamber he once controlled would be temporarily run by the Assembly majority leader, Joseph D. Morelle. Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee Herman D. Farrell Jr. would be responsible for budget negotiations. Additionally, Joseph Lentol, Cathy Nolan, and Carl Heastie would also help lead the chamber. If Silver beats the corruption charges against him, he could resume control of his position as Speaker.
“The Speaker is not stepping down,” Silver’s spokesman Michael Whyland insisted. “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. This will give him the flexibility he needs so that he can defend himself against these charges, and he is confident that he will be found innocent.”
Silver, who was released on $200,000 bail, is expected to address the members of the Assembly later today for the first time since his arrest.