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Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, though bruised by some controversies, said Wednesday he thinks he’s secure in the post he’s held for nearly two decades.
“As strong as the members want it to be,’’ said Silver (D-Manhattan) when asked how strong he is in his role as the house leader, a position he's held since 1994. “I serve at the pleasure of the members. I think I have the support of all the members, and we go from here.’’
Silver came under heavy criticism over the last year for his handling of sexual harassment scandal that resulted in the resignation of Assemb. Vito Lopez (D-Brooklyn).
Silver admitted he erred by approving a confidential settlement in 2012 rather than sending complaints to the Assembly Ethics Committee for investigation, as per his own policy. Silver publicly apologized at a news conference.
The Speaker later said an Assembly lawyer mishandled a separate sexual-harassement accusation; the attorney resigned. Though a few Assembly members called for Silver's resignation, most Democrats have stuck with their leader.
Also this year, the husband of Judy Rapfogel, Silver’s longtime chief of staff, was indicted on larceny and money laundering charges alleging a kickback scheme at the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty. Silver has acknowledged his 40-year friendship with William Rapfogel; Rapfogel’s lawyer has said the Speaker knew “nothing” about Rapfogel’s actions.
Silver, in Albany for an economic development event, said he wasn’t sure if a probe led by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s hand-picked corruption commission would leave any hard feeling among rank-and-file lawmakers.
“We never had a conference about it so I can’t gauge that discussion right now. I think as we come back next year you’ll get a better feel of what’s involved,’’ Silver said. “I can’t tell you at this time.”