Calling for an End to the Shel Game

Senate Majority Leader says colleagues shouldn't moonlight

Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith's call for his peers to give up outside income has turned attention once again to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's lucrative side gig as an attorney.

"I think the leadership should not have a second income," said Smith, a former real estate developer. "I think as a leader, anyone in leadership, I would rather see just devote their full time to the job."

With his fellow legislators calling for greater disclosure of their colleagues' outside income, Smith's comment is a clear call for action.

"There are enough circumstances and cases where it's gotten us in trouble, and it'd be better for everybody if we make sure that there's enough clarity in what we do and how we do it so we can be more focused on the business of the state."

Silver, arguably the most powerful man in the state, is paid $121,000 annually to serve as Speaker, but that apparently isn't enough to satisfy his needs.

For years he has maintained a position as counsel with Weitz & Luxenberg. Who are his clients? How much does he make? Nobody knows.

What is known is that Shel recently lent $50,000 to a company that funds personal injury lawsuits, an industry that has remained highly profitable thanks in large part to the legislature's refusal to tighten medical malpractice expenses.

What could possibly be wrong?

"Speaker Silver continues to believe in a citizen Legislature, including individuals from a wide range of careers in which they may still be involved," Silver spokesman Dan Weiller said.

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