ALBANY, N.Y. – Alleged discrepancies in New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s past have been brought to the forefront after the politician was arrested on corruption charges Thursday.
Sheldon Silver has been in the state assembly since 1977, but he has been in the limelight since before he became Assembly Speaker in 1994. Silver has been accused of covering up sexual harassment scandals of fellow lawmakers, and rape allegations against his chief of staff have topped headlines over the last two decades.
Silver has been coined one of the ‘Three Amigos.’ He’s known to be a major player when it comes to passing state laws, and his authority commanded respect at the Capitol.
“Shelly was always feared or respected for playing the game,” Charmian Neary said.
Neary said she was paid $85,000 by Silver in 1995 to stop pushing for an investigation into a former assemblyman. She accused then-Assemblyman Mark Alan Siegel of trying to convince her to have sex with him.
She said other politicians respected Silver for the wrong reasons.
“The only respect was for how well he played the game,” she said. “He was so sly, he would never be caught.”
In 2001, Elizabeth Crothers accused Silver’s then-Chief of Staff Michael Boxley of rape. She was a staffer for a republican assemblyman. According to reports, when she met with Silver to discuss the alleged rape, she said Silver was “callously” eating as she told her story.
Silver initially backed Boxley who denied the claim. An internal assembly investigation was inconclusive, and Crothers never filed a criminal complaint.
In 2003, Boxley was accused of raping another female assembly staffer. Boxley eventually resigned and pleaded guilty to sexual misconduct.
Silver was later tied into several sexual harassment cases involving then-Assemblyman Vito Lopez. In 2013, a state ethics report found Silver failed to investigate the allegations. He later apologized for his role in the Lopez scandal.
It was later found, Silver had arranged for a secret $103,000 settlement with two of Lopez’s accusers, and that money was found to have come from taxpayers. According to assembly rules, he was supposed to immediately refer the matter to the ethics committee.
Silver was never charged with criminal wrongdoing.
Criminal cases are ongoing against Lopez. Reports claim Silver was supposed to testify in December 2014, but the hearing was delayed.
“This is no surprise to anyone who knows him,” Neary said.
Neary said Silver had one priority – power.
“All the sexual harassment he hid was only so all those men would owe him so he could be speaker,” she said.
Neary filed a complaint against Siegel. He denied her claims saying, ‘it had no basis in fact.’ Her complaint was later dismissed by the assembly. A criminal complaint was never filed.
Silver has held the one of the highest powers in the state for 20 years out of his 39 years in office. Many believe he will fight the charges for the rest of his life and not willingly give up his role as Speaker of the Assembly.