Lifton at a meeting earlier this month

Ithaca, N.Y. — Ithaca Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton is calling on NY Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to resign after initially resisting the chorus calling for the embattled speaker’s ouster.

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Silver, the speaker of the assembly since 1994, has been charged by federal prosecutors with orchestrating a massive bribery and corruption kickback scheme.

After most state editorial boards called for his immediate resignation, Lifton originally resisted, citing her experience with the speaker and his crucial role in important fights.

Now, however, after consulting with other lawmakers, Lifton has decided that Silver has to go.

She said in a statement Monday, “I have concluded that the Speaker can no longer continue in his position due to the appearance of serious ethical violations.”

“I am therefore joining the call for him to resign as Speaker of the Assembly,” Lifton said.

Her statement added:

After gathering information and consulting with my colleagues, I have concluded that the Speaker can no longer continue in his position due to the appearance of serious ethical violations. I am therefore joining the call for him to resign as Speaker of the Assembly.  …

The Speaker has claimed that he is innocent, but the ethical cloud he is under cannot interfere with the work of our conference as we begin to negotiate a state budget and other legislation.

This is a sad day for our conference and a sad day for New York, but it is imperative that elected officials be held to the highest standards of ethical conduct and public confidence.

The Tompkins County Republican Party has criticized Lifton for not more quickly calling for Silver’s resignation. Read their take here.

Lifton at a meeting earlier this month

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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.