Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is one of the most powerful men in NY State—which makes this NY Times story a bombshell: "Federal authorities are investigating substantial payments made to the State Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver, by a small law firm that seeks real estate tax reductions for commercial and residential properties in New York City, according to people with knowledge of the matter."

From the Times:

Prosecutors from the United States attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York and agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation have found that the law firm, Goldberg & Iryami, P.C., has paid Mr. Silver the sums over roughly a decade, but that he did not list that income on his financial disclosure forms, as required, the people said...

Mr. Silver, who has wielded enormous influence in Albany for the two decades in which he has served as speaker, is a personal injury lawyer. He is not known to have any expertise in the complex and highly specialized area of the law in which Goldberg & Iryami practices, known as tax certiorari, which involves challenging real estate tax assessments and seeking reductions from municipalities...

Mr. Goldberg and his firm have represented hundreds of properties across New York City, from modest storefronts on Staten Island to office buildings in Midtown Manhattan, according to court filings and records from the city’s Tax Commission. He has also represented several of large cooperative developments on the Lower East Side, the neighborhood that makes up the heart of Mr. Silver’s political base.

Also important to note: The U.S. Attorney's office's investigation is based on work originally done by Governor Cuomo's ethics panel, the Moreland Commission; Cuomo eventually disbanded the commission, calling it an "overwhelming success."

The investigation is looking to see what Silver has done to earn the "substantial" payments from Goldberg & Iryami. Jay Goldberg told the Wall Street Journal, "Nothing illicit is going on here."

Silver's income has been a source of mystery for many years. He makes beaucoup bucks from his legal work at the personal injury firm Weitz & Luxenberg, making $650,000-750,000 last year in addition to his $122,000 Assembly salary. And then there's at least $100,000 in interest from another company—see this Post graphic. It's estimated he's worth $6 million.

The Times notes, "State ethics laws do not require him to provide any details about what he does, who his clients are, or even if he has any clients at all. Public records contain no indication that he has ever appeared on behalf of clients in state or federal court. He has for years steadfastly refused to discuss his work or his clients in anything but the most general terms."