Sheldon Silver to recommend expulsion of Vito Lopez
New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver announced Thursday night that he would take steps to recommend the expulsion of State Assemblyman Vito Lopez after a scathing report detailing sexual harassment allegations against Lopez was released on Wednesday.
Silver said Thursday that he would introduce a resolution on Friday asking the Assembly’s Ethics and Guidance Committee to “recommend appropriate sanctions including expulsion” against Lopez, the New York Times reports.
The announcement comes after Silver, a Manhattan democrat, himself has been under attack for his handling of the allegations following the Joint Commission on Public Ethics’ report and a separate report by Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan.
With Silver’s approval, the Assembly’s leadership secretly settled two sexual harassment allegations against Lopez and failed to refer the cases to an ethics committee for investigation, the Times reports.
Lopez has maintained his innocence. He was re-elected last year after the allegations first became public, and he has been eying a City Council run.
But the lengthy JCOPE report released this week has stirred more anger towards the assemblyman. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Thursday that he believes Lopez should be expelled if he does not resign.
According to the report, Lopez demanded female staffers to massage him, send him flirtatious text messages, wear revealing clothing and stay overnight in hotel rooms with him.
Elected officials from both parties have called for Lopez’s expulsion, the Times reports. Republicans called for Silver’s ouster as well, while Democrats generally said they believe Silver has acknowledged his mistakes and will handle future allegations differently.