Today, former New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was found guilty on charges of honest services fraud, extortion, and money laundering related to his time in office. Silver was arguably the most powerful politician in New York for two decades, and along with the Governor and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos — who is now also on trial for corruption — had tremendous influence on the state’s public policy.
“Sheldon Silver’s conviction is the latest and biggest in a series of corruption scandals that have plagued New York State for years,” said Lawrence Norden, deputy director of the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program. “While corruption must be prosecuted and punished, what New Yorkers need most is wholesale reform of the political system. That should start with a voluntary public financing system that allows ordinary citizens to run competitive campaigns against entrenched interests without the support of big donors or party machines, as well as closing of campaign finance loopholes and lowering of contributions limits. Enough is enough — it shouldn’t take even more convictions for Albany to take reform seriously.”
In April the Brennan Center, along with Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP, filed suit to close the state’s infamous “LLC Loophole,” which has allowed elected officials, including Silver, to take in unlimited amounts of often secret contributions from big donors.
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