Joe Lhota: Sheldon Silver must step down

Credit: Emily Anne Epstein/Metro
Credit: Emily Anne Epstein/Metro

In a highly-publicized announcement this afternoon, Joe Lhota made the most aggressive move yet by a local politician against Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, calling on the other mayoral candidates, both Democrat and Republican, to join him in demanding the Speaker’s immediate resignation.

Silver has been accused of covering up former Assemblyman Vito Lopez’s sexual abuse of female staffers. Lhota attests that he is further attempting to silence criticism from his colleagues as well.

“He has repeatedly demonstrated a gross abuse of power and has proven that he is incapable of ethical leadership,” Lhota said. “I’m urging all of the candidates—Democrat and Republican—to join me in showing a unified front against sex abuse cover-ups in state government.”

Silver reportedly paid out a settlement several years ago to two women who reported being harassed by Lopez. Discovery of the settlement prompted an investigation, and Lopez was forced to resign from the Assembly last month in disgrace after a 68-page ethics report was released detailing Lopez’s sexual harassment of numerous young female staffers.  

The report described incidences ranging from a young staffer sobbing as Lopez made her massage his hand to another staffer having her inner thigh scratched by Lopez’s “jagged fingernail” as she attempted to stop his from pushing his hand up her leg. At one point, several people in the office reportedly contracted pink eye after being made to apply eye drops to Lopez’s infected eyes. 

Lopez is now running for City Council, however. Reports have indicated he may have significant support in his Ridgewood-Bushwick district. Councilmember Peter Vallone has tried to rally his colleagues to cease funding to Lopez’s major support base, the Ridgewood-Bushwick Senior Citizens Council, in order to show that Lopez would be impotent in securing resources for his constituents if elected.

In addition to demanding Silver’s resignation, Lhota asked the City Council to “swiftly” pass legislation barring any candidate found guilty of corruption or other wrong-doing from using the Campaign Finance Board’s public matching funds program.

 

Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat


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