From the Capital Tonight morning memo:
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver could have used this week off probably.
Instead it kicked off with William Rapfogel, a key political ally in the non-profit community and husband of Silver aide Judy, getting fired from his job as CEO of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty under a cloud of a criminal investigation from the offices of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Comptroller Tom DiNapoli (the latter of whom is a former assemblyman who Silver pushed to receive the job following the resignation of Alan Hevesi).
Silver in a statement yesterday said he was both stunned and saddened by the news that Rapfogel would be under some sort of suspicion for financial malfeasance. Without admitting anything specifically, Rapfogel himself apologized for vague “mistakes” he made while the CEO of the organization.
And while the first inclination among some Silver detractors is to think the scandal must be tied back to the speaker somehow, it was reported yesterday that Rapfogel is being investigated for possible improper campaign finance donations to mayoral candidates in New York City.
With the whiff of scandal in the air, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn immediately returned her Rapfogel cash, her campaign told The Daily News.
But Rapfogel story still remains a bad one for Silver, given the largesse of state contracts that have been sent to the Met Council over the years — more than $16.5 million.
The latest scandal only provides more fodder for the speaker’s critics, who are seemingly looking for any excuse to score a few points off the taciturn Manhattan Democrat.
On Sunday, The New York Post re-reported a five-year-old story that first appeared in the now-defunct New York Sun that Silver uses his taxpayer-funded flying time to take a roundabout way home to New York City in order to pick up the frequent flier miles.
Nevermind it’s an old story (the Post isn’t usually one to admit it’s been scooped). Two Assembly Republicans on Monday — one of which is potential gubernatorial candidate Steve McLaughlin — sent a letter to Silver asking that he donate the flier points to charity.
Despite its mold, the frequent flier story is a fun one, given that it highlights a particularly absurd brand of cheapskatery that’s akin to spending hours a day clipping coupons for jumbo-sized mouthwash. It’s an added bonus the Silver is a millionaire, likely several times over.
But the tab’s Sunday story, the McLaughlin letter, the Rapfogel inquiry and then a Democratic Assembly candidate calling on Silver to quit represent a new phase of piling on the embattled speaker at a time that he’s never been more vulnerable after two — two! — sexual harassment scandals from lawmakers have hit the chamber in the last year.
Fake Shelly Silver — the bitingly funny parody Twitter account — may yawn at candidate Haille Rivera’s call, but it’s a potential signal for other candidates come 2014 to distance themselves from him.
Indeed, the only person who is seemingly not piling on at this point is Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who publicly at least is staying above it all.
Yesterday in a radio interview (and right before the Rapfogel news broke), the governor broke out a stock line when it comes to Silver: “It’s not my place, frankly, to take a position.”
Whether this can hold through 2014 remains to be seen.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Nick Reisman on August 13, 2013 at 10:39 am, and is filed under Sheldon Silver. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|