The Empire State’s capital is corrupt to the core, and has been for a very long time. Virtually nothing happens there that isn’t driven by self-dealing. It is a cesspool unworthy of respect or trust and now stands naked in disgrace.
The roster of convicted crooks is approaching 40 public officials, but Silver’s case is unique. As speaker for 20 years, he was at the center of every piece of legislation written and every taxpayer dollar collected and spent. He ruled the Assembly like a private fiefdom, and, governors notwithstanding, he was called the most powerful man in the state for good reason.
Nothing moved without his say-so, and according to the federal charges, he turned that power into personal wealth. He “monetized public office,” Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara said, adding that Silver “amassed a tremendous personal fortune” of at least $3.8 million through kickbacks and bribery.
One series of charges says he traded $500,000 in taxpayer money for more than $3 million in private gain. He allegedly took cash from a state slush fund and gave it to a doctor, who referred asbestos cases to a law firm that illegally split its share of medical settlements with Silver.