It’s certainly possible that former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver will be convicted when prosecutors retry him on corruption charges.
But I’m not holding out much hope that he will be.
In fact, I’m not holding out much hope that corrupt New York politicians will ever truly be held accountable for their behavior.
Anyone with eyes can examine the case laid out by federal prosecutors and come to the conclusion that Silver benefited mightily from his position as one of New York’s most powerful political leaders.
But proving that Silver engaged in gross, unseemly and unethical conduct is not the same as proving that he’s guilty of public corruption.
At least, not under the narrower definition of public corruption laid out in a precedent-setting 2016 Supreme Court decision overturning the graft conviction of former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell.
Much like former Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno before him, Silver is the beneficiary of a timely ruling from the highest court in the land.
And he won’t be the only politician who benefits from the McDonnell decision, which makes it harder for prosecutors to secure a conviction for public corruption.
Which is why I give prosecutors credit for vowing to retry Silver.
Convicting Silver a second time, under the new, more stringent standard laid out by the Supreme Court, won’t be easy.
If he walks, prosecutors might very well start shying away from all but the most outrageous public corruption cases.
Nobody likes to lose, least of all federal prosecutors, and the real impact of the McDonnell decision doesn’t lie in the Silver case, or…
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