ALBANY – The State Assembly has retained a Manhattan law firm to provide legal help in the federal corruption charges brought against former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
An initial contract, listed at $45,000, has been awarded to Zuckerman Spaeder.
A spokesman for Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, who replaced Silver, said the retainer with the politically wired law firm came after U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara requested official documents from the Assembly earlier this year.
The state comptroller’s office was notified of the contract on March 18; that agency’s web site lists the contract expiring next February.
Silver has his own lawyer, but taxpayers are paying for the new contract with Zuckerman Spaeder for legal work undertaken in the Silver case that might involve documents and other information held by the Assembly.
As is often the case, there is some irony in the law firm selection by the Assembly. The lawyer handling the matter for the Assembly, according to a spokesman, is Paul Shechtman. In 2004, Shechtman successfully represented then-Gov. George E. Pataki – in an action known as “Silver vs. Pataki.’’ The landmark case gave further power to governors, at the expense of the Legislature, in the crafting of state budgets.
Steven M. Cohen, who is affiliated with the Manhattan law firm, is a former top aide to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.