ALBANY — What a demise for the "Three Amigos."
Not Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Martin Short, stars of the 1986 comedy film. But Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.
Six years ago, they were flying high, engineering timely budgets, doling out goodies to taxpayers and controlling billions of dollars. Attempting a lighthearted moment in his 2015 State of the State address, Cuomo, who loved Power Point presentations, superimposed their faces over the actors’ — Silver for Martin, Cuomo for Chase, Skelos for Short — in a slide to show what close collaborators they were.
They were on horses, wearing sombreros.
"We are going to be our own version of the Three Amigos," Cuomo shouted, triggering laughter from lawmakers as the slide popped up on the screen at the Empire State Plaza.
Today, they are all gone from the state scene. Or on the way out.
Skelos and Silver have been convicted of federal corruption charges.
Cuomo will resign in disgrace.
On Tuesday, he said he would step down, effective Aug. 24, in the wake of sexual harassment allegations involving 11 women and a fast-moving impeachment process that threatened to bring charges against him by the end of the month. So far one woman has filed a criminal complaint against the governor.
Cuomo maintains he did nothing wrong and will step aside for the good of the state because, he said, the investigations into his behavior are biased and have become a distraction.
"You had the triumvirate, reigning supreme over the state and in a short time, in a governmental sense, two went to jail and the other resigned in disgrace," said Doug Muzzio, a Baruch College political scientist. "The tragic flaw is hubris. It’s incredible."
John McEneny, a retired state legislator who served with all three, called the fall of the leaders in the PowerPoint slide striking.
Typically, when you hear of a politician, "getting in trouble, usually it’s people on the bottom who don’t know what they are they’re doing," said McEneny, the author of a history book on the State Capitol. "But this was people on the top. They all served with each other at the same time."
The beginning of the amigos’ demise immediately followed Cuomo’s 2015 address.
Not 24 hours later, Silver was arrested on federal corruption charges. It took two trials, but he eventually was convicted on extortion, money laundering and mail and wire fraud charges. The charges centered on Silver taking $4 million in illicit payments to take actions to benefit a cancer researcher and real estate clients.
Last year, a judge sentenced Silver to 6 ½ years in federal prison. A bid to get then-President Donald Trump to pardon him failed.
Skelos too was arrested in 2015. He would be convicted on bribery, conspiracy and extortion charges. He was accused of using his power as Senate majority leader to pressure three companies to give jobs and fees worth $300,000 to his son, doing favors in Albany for the companies in return.
Skelos was sentenced to serve 51 months. In April 2020, he was granted early release to serve the rest of his time in home confinement because of the pandemic; his sentence expires in August 2022.
Cuomo announced his resignation Tuesday, one week after a report issued by state Attorney General Letitia James said he sexually harassed 11 women, including current and former assistants and female state trooper assigned to his security detail.
The report also triggered the Assembly to accelerate impeachment proceedings that began in March when James began investigating the claims. The Assembly probe was wider, though, also looking into Cuomo’s policies and nursing home deaths due to COVID-19 and his alleged improper use of state personnel to help him write a pandemic memoir that netted him a $5.1 million book deal.
One day before Cuomo announced his resignation, the Assembly outlined an impeachment schedule that could have it voting on charges by the end of the month.
Cuomo had planned to run for a fourth term but will wind up 16 months shy of three full ones.
Lee Miringoff, Marist College pollster, noted the "last three New York governors didn’t end up where they wanted to be."
Eliot Spitzer resigned in 2008 amid a prostitution scandal. David Paterson didn’t run for reelection in 2010 after ethics scandals harmed his prospects.
The Three Amigos story didn’t end the way they wanted, either. As for the images of the sombrero-sporting pols, Miringoff said: "Those will become collectors’ items."