Governor Andrew Cuomo this morning denied that he was seeking to unseat Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver as part of some sort of larger anti-corruption crusade in Albany.
“It is wholly up to the legislative bodies to select a leader,” said Cuomo (who has been involved with the leadership question in the Senate, approving Republican-gerrymandered lines and tacitly blessing a coalition with breakaway Democrats that has kept the chamber out of Democratic hands). “I would never even for a moment try to influence that decision.”
Today, the New York Post’s state editor, Fred Dicker, ran a blockbuster columnÂ citing sources who said thatÂ Cuomo was considering mounting a coup against Silver, the Manhattan Democrat who has run the Assembly since 1994.
Dicker attributed his information first to “sources” and then to a “Cuomo administration source.”
In that same story and attributable to no one, he also reported that Cuomo was considering repealing the Wilson-Pakula law, which allows a Democrat to run on the Republican line, or vice versa, if the political party that controls that line gives its OK. Cuomo is also reportedly considering forbidding political cross-endorsements.
The Wilson-Pakula is at the center of the corruption allegations against State Senator Malcolm Smith and Councilman Dan Halloran.
Though all those elements of Dicker’s report were apparently attributable to the same sources, Cuomo denied only one of them: the Silver piece.
In fact, according to Cuomo, the recent corruption allegations, which have directly involved two members of the state legislature, one councilman and two city Republican officials, actually have more to do with city malfeasance than the state’s.
“In terms of Speaker Silver, remember again the context,” he said. “First of all … the majority of the actions and the players, it was about a New York City mayoral scandal. It was not an Albany scandal.”
He also said, in an apparent allusion to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, “It’s not that we don’t know the problems of getting on the ballot, the New York City mayoral problems. It’s not that we haven’t had cases where people have been proven to be paying large sums of money to political parties and county chairs to try to get on the ballot in New York City. No, we know the problems and we know the solutions. We haven’t had the political will.”
Cuomo promised to introduce a broad reform agenda soon, so as to take advantage of the public’s surely ephemeral interest in the topic of corruption and how to stem it.
He implied he might be considering creating a Moreland Commission, and he called for laws that would allow district attorneys to prosecute cases of public corruption, not just U.S. Attorneys.
He did not, however, suggest that the current attorney general, his political rival Eric Schneiderman, be given the same powers, even though when Cuomo was attorney general, he sought them for himself.
And he continued to maintain that despite it all, Albany runs well.
“I believe the government has performed with renewed integrity,” he said, adding, “You will always have individuals who break the law.”
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