ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has submitted the resignation letter for his speakership, sources told CBS2 Friday evening.
Silver, who was arrested earlier this month on federal corruption charges, will resign from his post effective at 11:59 p.m. Monday, sources told CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer. His last appearance as speaker will be the Assembly session on Monday.
Silver will remain a member of the Assembly.
Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle (D-Rochester) announced Tuesday that Silver had agreed to step down by Monday at the latest. Morelle will serve as acting speaker until a new one is elected by Feb. 10.
As majority leader, the No. 2 post in the chamber, Morelle will be the interim speaker from the moment Silver resigns until the lawmakers next formally convene. At that point, they plan to amend their rules to keep him as interim speaker until Feb. 10, so as to give any other member a chance to express interest and explain how he or she would lead, said Assemblyman Thomas Abinanti.
Carl Heastie, who doubles as Bronx Democratic chairman; Keith Wright, who is also the Manhattan party chairman; and Queens Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan have been cited as the leading candidates to replace Silver. Brooklyn Assemblyman Joseph Lentol was also on that list, but has decided not to seek the speakership.
“The Speaker is not stepping down,” spokesman Michael Whyland said this past Monday. “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.”
But Silver’s plea to keep the post while he fights the charges fell on deaf ears.
Members of the Assembly said Silver’s criminal charges had become a distraction and a problem for entire chamber.
“There is a strong sense among members it would be best for the speaker to step down and for this body to elect a new speaker,” Assembly member Patricia Fahy (D-Albany) said Tuesday. “There is a lot of hard work ahead to move ahead and unite the body behind a new speaker who can best represent the entire state, champion reforms and restore confidence in the Assembly.”
She noted, though, that the chamber and Silver have been instrumental in raising New York’s minimum wage, legalizing same-sex marriage, funding prekindergarten and other progressive measures.
Silver has had one vocal ally remaining. Mayor Bill de Blasio has called Silver “a man of integrity” and said Tuesday that he shouldn’t resign. He added that people have to respect the Assembly’s decision, but “it’s crucially important” that there is leadership that’s fair to the city, which often doesn’t get its fair share from the state government.
Some legislators also want rules changed to lessen the central power of the speaker’s office and seniority system, establish more transparency in how the chamber operates and make decisions and give the chairmen of Assembly committees more authority.
Silver, a Lower Manhattan Democrat, was taken into custody Thursday morning by the FBI. He faces five counts including conspiracy and bribery. He was released later in the day on $200,000 bail.
He is accused of using his position as one of the state’s most powerful politicians to obtain millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks masked as legitimate income.
If convicted, Silver could face a sentence of up to 100 years in prison.
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