News & Politics

Sheldon Silver's Conviction Spells Trouble for Andrew Cuomo

Nobody much cares about the Empire State any more, except the clubby, corrupt circle of cronies who run the place. Tammany Hall may have come and gone, but the fleecing of the public by the solons in Albany continues apace. Now, with the conviction of assembly speaker Sheldon Silver, all eyes are once again upon the sleepy upstate burg, where what’s left of the golden goose is still being picked apart by small, nasty little men. Bob McManus has the scoop in the New York Post — and why the feds’ interest in the sausage factory could mean heap big trouble for Gov. Andrew Cuomo:

So in the end, the longest-tenured of Albany’s three men in a room turned out to be just another thief. Not a petty thief, not by any means; Sheldon Silver of the Lower East Side had stuffed his jeans with at least $4 million — and that makes him distinctive by Albany standards: The capital city’s gutter-grubbers traditionally settle for chump change. Hurray and hallelujah. It was a long time coming.

Monday’s guilty-on-all-counts verdict was swiftly arrived at, and surely chilled the air in the nearby courtroom where US Attorney Preet Bharara has put another erstwhile Albany power broker, former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, on trial for his future. Not to rush things, but Bharara’s brief against Skelos — a sad man who allegedly indulged an arrogant, greedy, stupid son by strong-arming businessmen — isn’t nearly as nuanced as was the case against Silver. That is, jury deliberations in the Skelos case aren’t likely to last longer than the minute and 45 seconds that it took to convict Silver.

And then there will be one man left standing — Gov. Cuomo, who has been squarely in Bharara’s sights for months now; not-guilty verdicts in Silver’s case would have let the steam out of whatever it is that the prosecutor is planning for Cuomo, and that didn’t happen. Which has to weigh heavily on the governor. Though no one is suggesting that he ever put an untoward penny in his own pocket, he’s beefed up his campaign accounts with millions from people who figured prominently in both the Silver and Skelos cases.

If there’s something there, no matter how minuscule, Bharara will stretch it to its limits.

Cuomo, the son of former governor Mario Cuomo, is up to his ears in potential legal trouble, and it’s an open secret that Bharara is gunning for him. McManus’s reference to “three men in a room,” refers to the old Albany adage that, in the end, all of New York State’s business gets decided by the governor, the speaker (almost always a Democrat) and the majority leader (generally a Republican). But other than them, both probably heading for the hoosegow, the unpleasant Cuomo — who’s managed to alienate both the Kennedys and the Clintons — doesn’t have a buddy in the world. Except, of course, Preet Bharara.