ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Sheldon Silver’s 21 years as the leader of the New York state Assembly came to a close late Monday.
The Manhattan Democrat resigned at 11:59 p.m. Monday following his arrest on federal corruption charges.
Silver had initially tried to hold on to power but on Friday his spokesman announced he would resign. Democratic lawmakers say they were prepared to oust him if he didn’t step aside.
Majority Leader Joseph Morelle of Rochester will serve as acting speaker until Silver’s successor is chosen. Assembly members Carl Heastie of the Bronx, the frontrunner, and Catherine Nolan are both candidates.
If selected, Heastie would be the first African-American speaker in New York while Nolan, of Queens, would be the first female speaker in state history.
Heastie was also the Bronx County political boss, but is giving that up because of the current atmosphere. He said he will also forgo outside income.
“A single corruption case is one too many,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo said that the extortion and bribery case against Silver makes it imperative for lawmakers to understand the time is now to restore trust in government.
“I’ve seen acts of corruption after acts of corruption after acts of corruption. I’ve seen a whole string of politicians, one after the other, saying ‘I’m not like the other guy, trust me,’ and I had my heart broken again and again and again,” the governor said.
Silver was arrested Jan. 22 on charges that he took nearly $4 million in payoffs and kickbacks.
He says he expects to be exonerated and plans to keep his Assembly seat.
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