Vito Lopez scandal remains an issue for Sheldon Silver
Vito Lopez may no longer be Sheldon Silver’s colleague as of this morning, but it seems he may still be the Speaker’s problem.
Calls for investigation into Silver have developed into calls for a coup, as women’s groups, government watchdog organizations, and newspaper editorial boards across the state rail against the Speak.
Thursday’s New York Post covered featured the Speaker with Lopez under the headline “Dirty Old Men.” Silver is being criticized for arranging a confidential settlement with staffers who filed sexual harassment complaints against Lopez.
Assemblyman Micah Kellner, running for City Council, told the New York Times the investigation into the confidentiality agreement needs to include “who proposed it, who wrote it, and who required it.”
Lopez was cleared of criminal charges, but a 68-page report by the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics detailed shocking behavior.
Lopez reportedly pushed his hand “all the way up” the inner thigh of an employee, and two others contracted pink eye after consenting to apply eye drops to Lopez’s infected eyes. At a bar in Brooklyn he apparently grabbed the hand of an employee, and squeezed harder when she tried to pull away. She began to cry and he forced her to count to sixty before releasing her.
He also made a staffer massage his hand after asking her if she “felt guilty” about being a victim of sexual assault in college. While she cried, he said, “I like that you’re holding my hand.”
A recent New York Post report stated that state government corruptions costs taxpayers at least $49,710,630.64. According to The Post, that amount of money could fund two new schools, 100 new fire trucks, or the New York Islanders.
The Post noted that the Lopez settlement cost taxpayers $103,000.
Past attacks against Silver have not been successful. Over a decade ago, Syracuse Assemblyman Michael Bragman attempted to overthrow Silver as Assembly Speaker, and Silver immediately took away Bragman’s title as majority leader. Silver’s allies crushed Bragman without Silver ever emerging from his office to come to the floor to defend himself.
A source apparently told the Daily News that Governor Andrew Cuomo is leaving Lopez’s seat vacant until a primary can be held in September, in order to prevent Lopez from being able to exert any control over his replacement in a special election.
Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat