Other than (or, possibly, including ) the Governor, Sheldon Silver is the most powerful person in the state of New York. He has been Speaker of the House Assembly for almost 21 years, and has ruled with an iron fist.
But now he has been arrested, and is accused of taking almost $4 million dollars in bribes.
Whether or not Silver beats the charges (and it is a very good bet he will not), his time as the major power broker of New York is almost certainly over.
So what does this have to do with just re-elected Governor, and possible 2016 Presidential aspirant, Andrew Cuomo?
During his first term, Governor Cuomo created a commission – the Moreland Commission – to root out corruption in New York. But, last July, he summarily shut that committee down, apparently because it was getting too close to people Governor Cuomo was in direct association with. And when Mr. Cuomo was asked why he shut it down, here was his remarkably arrogant answer:
“It\’s my commission. My subpoena power, my Moreland Commission. I can appoint it, I can disband it. I appoint you, I can un-appoint you tomorrow…It\’s my commission. I can\’t \’interfere\’ with it, because it is mine. It is controlled by me.”
Boss Tweed couldn\’t have said it better.
The only thing that saved Andrew Cuomo then was the fact that, other than the New York Times which, to its credit, fully covered this scandal, most mainstream media gave it the one-or-two-day-and-out treatment. Here is how I blogged about media\’s digraceful abrogation of journalistic professionalism at the time:
Well, guess what: we are now finding out that a) the Moreland Commission was hot and heavy into investigating Sheldon Silver, and b) it was shut down just after Governor Cuomo cut a rancorously-negotiated budget deal with Silver.
Did Cuomo agree to close it down in return for Silver going along with his budget demands?
I don\’t know the answer to that question. And it is possible that the prosecution of Sheldon Silver will not provide the answer. But it very well may. And even if it doesn\’t:
-you can bet the timeline of that deal and the Moreland Commission\’s shutdown is going to hang heavily over Andrew Cuomo for the rest of his political career,
-it is a virtual guarantee that the New York Times, which most other mainstream media hung out to dry when they did not join the Times in covering the original story, is going to be all over this….probably reminding readers that it was reporting about Cuomo when the others were not,
-and that is likely going to force many of the mainstream venues which under-covered the Cuomo story in July, to play a lot of catch-up ball from here on.
What effect do you figure this will have on Andrew Cuomo\’s chances at a Presidential run? Not a good one, I assure you – even if the facts subsequently clear him of any wrongdoing.
I can see the Cheshire-cat grin on Hillary Clinton\’s face from here.