Ooo. This should be fun: “Federal authorities are investigating substantial payments made to the State Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver, by a small law firm that seeks real estate tax reductions for commercial and residential properties in New York City, according to people with knowledge of the matter.” To summarize the article: one way to hide payoffs to politicians is via the venerable “consulting/contract work” method. You pay a guy a salary, he picks up the paycheck, and understandings are reached. In this particular case, apparently Silver wasn’t reporting the income in question – which, truth be told, sounds a bit weird: that seems to be a rookie corruption mistake. The point is that Silver is taking a lot of revenue from a law firm that specializes in a type of tax law that Silver reportedly has no professional experience in, and has been doing so for some time.
And here’s the reason why this matters beyond New York State:
The investigation into the Goldberg firm’s payments to Mr. Silver grew out of the work of the Moreland Commission, an anticorruption panel that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, created in 2013 but abruptly shut down in March. Before it was shut down, the commission had investigated how lawmakers earn money outside of Albany, though the inquiry was stymied by a legal challenge from lawmakers and their employers.
Governor Cuomo, and God help his party for this*, is on their short list for Somebody, Anybody, but Hillary Clinton and/or Joe Biden. The news that he may have shut down a whistleblowing commission before it could go after arguably the most powerful Democrat in the New York legislature might prove of interest to Democratic primary voters next year. Assuming, of course, that there’s anybody out there with a vested interest in having that come up…
*I certainly wouldn’t.