By Nate Raymond
NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, one of the state's most powerful Democrats for more than two decades, was arrested on federal corruption charges on Thursday, the FBI said.
Silver, 70, a lawyer whose tenure as speaker since 1994 has outlasted governors, mayors and many other politicians, has been under investigation by federal prosecutors in Manhattan and the FBI. Silver has served in the Assembly since 1977.
According to published reports, the charges stemmed from payments he received from a small law firm specializing in seeking reductions of New York City real estate taxes.
Silver, a political power broker who represents Manhattan's Lower East Side, is known as one of Albany's "Three Men in a Room," along with the governor and Senate majority leader, who negotiate the state budget and key legislation.
The arrest of Silver will likely spark political upheaval in Albany, the state capital, less than two weeks after he opened the new legislative session.
(Writing by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)