ALBANY, N.Y. - As Governor Andrew Cuomo and his Cabinet members toured the state last week after accomplishing the third on-time budget in a row, their progress was eclipsed by scandal.
Those already critical of Albany have new ammunition; politics at the Capitol came to a new low last week when within three days, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced federal corruption charges against State Senator Malcolm Smith and, in a separate scandal, Assemblyman Eric Stevenson. Fellow Assemblyman Nelson Castro admitted to being an informant, and according to court papers, wore a wire to bring Stevenson down. Castro then resigned.
Smith says despite the charges he is not stepping down from office.
These new allegations against state leaders have prompted action from Governor Andrew Cuomo; the New York Post reporting that he's considering ousting Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
The Governor has denied that, and fellow Assembly democrats around Albany tell NEWS CENTER Silver should not be held accountable.
But it wasn't only democrats defending Silver. Republican Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin says Silver isn't the problem.
The Governor seemed to agree with that stance Monday when he went on the public radio show "Capitol Press Room" he said he was working on overhauling ethical standards and election laws.
"We just did a budget that I am very proud of," said Cuomo. "It was a difficult budget with a lot of stress. We got the third budget on time and that's my primary relationship if you will with the speaker silver and the senate side in getting that done. We just accomplished one of the great feats. We've been bragging all over the state."
Former Assembly democrat Bob Reilly agreed that Silver shouldn't be held accountable, but explained that after 19 years as Speaker it might be time for a change.
During his time in the Assembly, Reilly says he's seen his colleagues arrested, and even reported one of them himself. Reilly says that he supports the governor's calls for strengthening ethical standards and election laws and hopes legislative leaders join him.
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