The political culture of Albany was wielded as a shield in Sheldon Silver’s defense: If Mr. Silver, the former State Assembly speaker, wrapped himself in financial conflicts of interest and collected millions of dollars in outside income, his lawyers argued, that did not make him a criminal.
“That is the system New York has chosen,” one defense lawyer said.
With Mr. Silver’s conviction on Monday, a federal jury rejected that argument, bringing one of the state’s most enduring political careers to a humiliating end, stripping Mr. Silver of the legislative seat he had held since Abraham D. Beame was mayor of New York.
Less certain than Mr. Silver’s downfall, however, are the implications of his conviction in Albany.
Government-watchdog groups expressed optimism Monday that the conviction would serve as a spur for a more aggressive round of action, perhaps targeting legislators’ income or the so-called L.L.C. loophole, which allows large unfettered contributions to political campaigns.
At the very least, advocates predicted, the verdict could have a chilling effect on legislators, who might previously have embraced tacit quid-pro-quo arrangements of the kind that led to Mr. Silver’s conviction.
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, who campaigned for stringent ethics legislation earlier this year, said that a stark choice confronted Albany.
“There are only two paths forward,” Mr. Schneiderman said in a statement. “More scandals, more prosecutions and the further erosion of public confidence; or real, transformational reform that deters and actually prevents corruption in the first place.”
The New York Public Interest Research Group called on Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to convene a special session of the Legislature dedicated to ethics reform.
Mr. Cuomo said late Monday that “justice was served.”
“With the allegations proven, it is time for the Legislature to take seriously the need for reform,” he said in a statement. “There will be zero tolerance for the violation of the public trust in New York.”
The pressure for new action on ethics may only increase in the coming months: Political strategists in both parties expect government corruption to be a major electoral issue in 2016, when control of the State Senate is up for grabs.
Dean G. Skelos, the former Republican leader of the State Senate, and his son, Adam, are currently on trial on corruption charges, in a case that experts consider more straightforward than the one against Mr. Silver, a Democrat.
A guilty verdict against Mr. Skelos would add to the anti-Albany drumbeat heading into the election year.
For Mr. Silver’s Assembly colleagues, the verdict was almost surreal in its finality. His indictment in January exposed an ethical lapse in Mr. Silver’s handling of the speakership, but more than a few privately doubted that he had done anything illegal. In the final days of the trial, lawmakers mused about how Mr. Silver might seek to wield power in Albany again, should he be exonerated.
Mr. Silver himself seemed to exude a subdued confidence throughout the proceedings, repeatedly telling reporters that his name would be cleared in the end.
Assemblyman Joseph R. Lentol, the longtime Brooklyn Democrat and colleague of Mr. Silver, expressed dismay at the verdict — “It’s a sad day” — saying he had initially believed that the speaker’s behavior, while unpalatable, was not necessarily criminal.
But on Monday, as Mr. Silver’s name was scrubbed from the Assembly website and removed from his office door, the reality of a Silver-less Assembly had seemingly dawned. Mr. Lentol called it a “body blow” to Albany’s lower chamber.
“It hurts all of us,” Mr. Lentol said, adding, “I still feel it is a noble profession that I practice and, when it’s done correctly, it’s a reward all unto itself.”
Mr. Lentol also said he believed the verdict would increase pressure for campaign finance reform, an idea he said he supported, though he admitted it would be a challenge to correct the system. “Money seems to be the root of all of the evil in politics,” he said.
Even before the trial, Mr. Silver’s name was synonymous with a system of state government that is widely seen as defined by secrecy and awash in lightly regulated money.
But that system has survived stiff challenges before, including a drive for ethics reform this year, in the aftermath of back-to-back corruption indictments against Mr. Silver and Mr. Skelos.
That push encountered powerful resistance, and produced only incremental new ethics laws that enhanced some forms of financial disclosure for lawmakers taking outside income.
More junior members of the Assembly suggested that Mr. Silver’s conviction would give those efforts more momentum. Assemblyman Todd Kaminsky, a freshman Democrat from Long Island and former federal corruption prosecutor, framed the conviction as a call to arms, saying “serious, swift action must be taken.”
“The bell could not be ringing louder for real reform in Albany than it is right now,” said Mr. Kaminsky, who is viewed as a potential candidate for Mr. Skelos’s Senate seat.
Michael Blake, a freshman Democrat from the Bronx and one of a group of younger members who had seized on Mr. Silver’s ouster as a transformative moment for the Assembly, said that justice was “definitely served” on Monday.
Mr. Silver’s conviction, he said, should be the next step in Albany’s evolution toward a less fetid Legislature.
“There’s an opportunity that’s there now for a new direction,” he said.
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