By DAVID KLEPPER
ALBANY (AP) - The conviction of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has shaken New York politics down to the granite foundations of the state Capitol, provoking fresh calls to overhaul a system that has stubbornly clung to its long history of corruption.
A jury convicted the 71-year-old Manhattan Democrat on Monday on charges that he traded favors for $4 million in kickbacks from a cancer researcher and real estate developers.
The rapid downfall was as shocking to lawmakers as it was troubling to longtime observers of New York politics.
“A political earthquake has hit Albany,” said Blair Horner, legislative director for the New York Public Interest Group. “This is a stinging rebuke to the ‘Albany business as usual’ defense and a clarion call to clean up state ethics.”
Silver, first elected in 1976, plans to appeal. He was ousted as speaker following his January arrest and lost his legislative seat upon conviction. He remains free on bail but faces decades in prison when he is sentenced.
For two decades, Silver loomed large as one of Albany’s “three men in a room,” who along with the Senate leader and the governor negotiated budgets, cut deals and defined New York’s brash brand of backroom politics.