Catherine Thompson

Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at

Articles by Catherine

How quickly the mighty fall: less than a week after longtime New York state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D) was arrested on federal corruption charges, his fellow Democrats have decided to replace him.

Although the criminal complaint from U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara's office hit at the very top of the legislature's food chain, Silver was merely the latest in a long line of state lawmakers who have been whacked with federal corruption charges. Bharara's office has convicted at least a dozen elected officials in recent years and is in the process of prosecuting even more.

Which all begs the question: Just how did New York state get so damn corrupt?

Some people have acknowledged the state's propensity for bad behavior. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) made ethics reform a key part of his first term, creating a new body tasked with investigating corruption that was named the Moreland Commission. But Cuomo's goals were ultimately reduced to a bargaining chip in budget negotiations with, among other people, Silver.

As the New York Times reported last year, Cuomo eventually shuttered the Moreland Commission in March 2014 in exchange for the legislature agreeing to a scaled-back version of his ethics package. The irony is that Cuomo's closing of the commission is now also reportedly being investigated by Bharara.

TPM talked to some people who know New York politics to find out how the state got this way. Here are five points to know about the mess:

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