New York State Assembly

Validated Kearns will rejoin Democrats after Silver conviction

Buffalo Assemblyman Mickey Kearns said the guilty verdict against former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver felt like a validation of his call for the Manhattan powerbroker’s removal.

The Democrat, who ran and won reelection with Republican and Independent party support in 2012, has been a longtime critic of Silver. He refused to support Silver as Speaker and left the Democratic conference, citing the Joint Commission on Public Ethics’ 2012 report on Silver’s alleged cover up of sexual harassment allegations leveled against the late former Brooklyn Assemblyman Vito Lopez. 

“My position has never changed,” Kearns said when reached by phone on Monday. “It’s been constant and I do feel vindicated and validated that Sheldon Silver should have been gone a long time ago, but it took the wheels of justice to remove him from his office today.”

While skeptics have argued that a single conviction will do little to change the corrupt culture of Albany some public advocacy groups see this as an opportunity the seize on the public’s focus and pass substantial reforms. Kearns said he believes the conviction does create room for more serious talks this session.

“I think there is going to be more pressure on the legislature to change,” Kearns said. “I think whether it’s ethics reforms, whether it’s rules changes, something I’ve been advocating for for a long time, I think there’s too much power in too few hands.” 

Kearns said he’s going to continue to push to give committee chairs broader powers in an effort to make it easier to get bills to the floor for a vote, one way he hopes to “de-centralize” power in Albany, something he believes many New Yorkers would support. 

“People are tired of the back room deals, the lack of transparency,” Kearns said. “I think that’s what they’re looking for.”

Kearns plans to now rejoin Democrats and has had conversations with Silver’s replacement, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, who told the assemblyman he would be brought back into the fold, he said.

"I’m hopeful, based on that,” Kearns said. “I haven’t officially been to a caucus yet, but I’m hopeful that in January I’ll be starting out with the Democrats."

 

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