Well, well well. This is getting awfully interesting! Remember that tiny law firm specializing in insanely complex property tax law that has been paying "substantial" sums of money to ambulance chaser Shelly Silver for at least a decade? The one we learned last night has drawn the attention of federal investigators? It seems that one of their major clients just happens to be arguably the largest political donor in New York State.
Oh yeah. You read that right. Mega developer Leonard Litwin, chairman emeritus of the Real Estate Board of New York, seems to do substantial business with Goldberg & Iryami, P.C., a tiny firm with only two attorneys that specializes in challenging property tax assessments and saving their clients millions. That's the same firm that has been paying significant sums to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a personal injury lawyer, for years now, though no one knows why. The invaluable Bill Mahoney has the scoop.
Developer Leonard Litwin, by most measures New York's most generous campaign contributor, is a major client of Goldberg & Iryami, P.C., the firm whose payments to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver are reportedly being examined by the Federal Bureau of Investigations.
Litwin has used 27 different Limited Liability Companies controlled by Glenwood Management to contribute at least $4.3 million to political committees in New York since the beginning of 2013.
Five of these L.L.C.s—Briar Hill Realty, L.L.C.; Columbus 60th Realty, L.L.C.; East 46th Realty, L.L.C.; East 81st Realty, L.L.C.; and River York Barclay, L.L.C.—are currently retaining Goldberg & Iryami for challenges to their real property tax assessments, according to data maintained by the New York City Tax Commission.
Litwin was Andrew Cuomo's largest donor this cycle, giving him a cool $1 million. (Which is absolutely insane on its face. No one person should be able to donate $1 million to a single politician) He's also given big to AG Eric Schneiderman ($240K) and Comptroller Tom DiNapoli ($130K). (Also completely nuts)
So we've got Shelly Silver, a man with a private law practice we didn't even know about before a few weeks ago, even though he's been in Albany for decades. We've got a NYC real estate tycoon who has been using every loophole in the book to contribute enormous amounts of money to Albany politicians just as New York City's rent control laws are expiring who just happens to be a major client of a small law firm that is also paying Shelly Silver to do...something.
But just when you thought this story couldn't get anymore freaking New York, check out who Litwin has on his lobbying payroll.
His lobbyists, including former state legislators Nick Spano and Carl Andrews, rarely detail anything beyond general real estate issues in their disclosure reports.
Oh my, that's just delicious. The last time we heard anything about former GOP state Senator Nick Spano, he was being sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison after pleading guilty to felony tax evasion. (Sound familiar?) And I'm sure you remember former Democratic state Senator Carl Andrews from when he was being investigated by the feds and the state Inspector General for his involvement in the scandal ridden bidding process for the "racino" at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens. That scandal almost brought down Andrews' BFF, newly re-elected Senator John Sampson who is facing a federal corruption trial in February on charges that somehow have nothing to do with Aqueduct. Andrews and Sampson became buddies under the tutelage of disgraced former Brooklyn Democratic boss Clarence Norman, who himself ended up being sentenced to nine years in prison for a string of almost comically corrupt offenses like just straight up selling Brooklyn judgeships to the highest bidder.
Oh, and let's not forget that Silver, who somehow escaped the taint of scandal in the Aqueduct debacle, was one of the legislative leaders picking those bids in a truly corrupt-smelling process. Andrews was then a lobbyist for the company that "won" the bid.
That either Spano or Andrews would be employable at all as lobbyists says pretty much everything one needs to know about just how profoundly corrupt Albany really is.
And the fact that all these players are turning up now in this scandal should both horrify New Yorkers and get them to grab the popcorn.
This is shaping up to be an Albany scandal of truly epic proportions. It could be one for the ages.
Buckle up, New York. I have a feeling that this one is going to be really, really good.
(image via Gov Cuomo's Flickr)