De Blasio: Let judicial process play out with Sheldon Silver

‘He’s done a lot for New York City’

January 22, 2015 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Mayor Bill de Blasio defended New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver after his arrest on Thursday. Shown: De Blasio speaks at a previous event. Photo by Demetrius Freeman, Office of the Mayor
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On Thursday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said New Yorkers should hold off on rushing to judgment in the case of New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

Silver was arrested Thursday morning on corruption charges and is accused of using his powerful position to obtain millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks.

“Although the charges announced today are certainly very serious, I want to note that I’ve always known Shelly Silver to be a man of integrity, and he certainly has due process rights. And I think it’s important that we let the judicial process play out here,” de Blasio told reporters, according to a transcript of Thursday’s press event.

The mayor said he felt that Silver should remain in his post as Speaker and “we should all let the judicial process play out. I think that’s something that’s important in a democratic society.”

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Silver faces five counts, including conspiracy and bribery. The charges carry a potential penalty of 100 years in prison.

Reporters noted that a loss by Silver could end up hurting the city, since Silver was a close ally of the mayor in getting his legislative agenda passed.

Silver backed de Blasio’s signature pre-K initiative, working to commit $300 million to New York City for this school year and line up $1.5 billion over the next five years. He also had the mayor’s back in his push to keep the cap on charter schools.

“I think there’s two separate concepts there. I think he has a right to due process. I really think that’s something we always need to affirm. Allegations are allegations. Charges are charges. And there has to be a process to determine the outcome,” de Blasio said. “I think, separately, it’s a true statement – he’s done a lot for New York City, and I value that certainly.”

De Blasio distinguished between his criticism of former Congressman Michael Grimm (R-D13) — who pleaded guilty to a count of felony tax fraud in December — and his attitude towards Silver.

“I think in Michael Grimm’s case, we saw a pattern of questionable practices over a long period of time, and it played out. I think, in my experience with Shelly Silver, I’ve seen integrity and public service,” he said.

He added that he had not spoken with Silver since the news of his arrest broke.

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