Assembly Speaker Silver Says He Told Lopez to Resign

Monday, September 03, 2012

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

WNYC's Bob Hennelly spoke with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver about Lopez. To hear the full interview, click the audio play button above.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said Monday that he has asked for the resignation of a Brooklyn assemblyman accused of sexually harassing female staffers, a scandal that ensnared Silver when he brokered a secret settlement with the women using public money.

"I told him it would be best for him personally and send a message" against sexual harassment, Silver told reporters in Charlotte, N.C., at the Democratic National Convention.

Assemblyman Vito Lopez, who has said he never sexually harassed anyone, didn't immediately respond to telephone messages and emails sent to his district office.

Silver said he had asked Lopez to quit after an Assembly ethics committee in August found that he sexually harassed two staffers. Silver has caught heat for a secret $103,000 settlement in June using taxpayers' money to end the separate sexual harassment charges made against Lopez.

Silver told WNYC that he and others felt they were doing what was in the “best interest of the victims” when he didn’t make the payout public. He said it is a “delicate balance” between victims’ privacy and the public’s need for transparency.

 “This was not a cover-up as such,” he said. “This was a pre-litigation settlement. … The mistake was not making it public. The mistake was not proceeding to a reference to the ethics committee.”

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli told WNYC on Tuesday that his office signed off on the sum but played no role in negotiating it. He said the state as an employer has to have zero tolerance for sexual harassment. But he said he doesn't know how often the state has paid out on similar claims because the settlements are booked as just payments to law firms.

Meanwhile, New York's government ethics panel is in a closed-door, special session on Tuesday and is expected to take up a sexual harassment case that has roiled Albany.

The Joint Commission on Public Ethics is expected to consider Silver's agreement.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has suggested JCOPE should review the scandal, which dominated news out of Albany a week ago.

A day earlier, at the annual breakfast before the West Indian Day parade in Brooklyn, incumbents and political hopefuls gathered to stump and pose for grip-and-grin photo ops in what is widely considered the unofficial start to the political season.

But this year, the sexual harassment scandal that in recent weeks has led to Lopez being stripped of his seniority and leadership positions was on nearly everyone’s mind.

The state’s ethics committee and a specially appointed prosecutor, Staten Island DA Dan Donovan, are moving forward with separate probes.

“I think there’s going to be lots of scrutiny, and I think that’s what everybody wants,” said former city comptroller and 2013 mayoral candidate Bill Thompson. “I think things have been handled well by the different levels. I think the Speaker’s comments indicated that he had regretted some of the actions that occurred.”

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz said he hopes the full story will now come out.  

“The speaker said, ‘I made a mistake,’ and that’s it. So now we know it’s out there and now we’ll, maybe, [get] the full story, we hope,” he said.

Lopez hasn’t resigned from the Assembly and remains the head of the county organization until elections later this month. But already there are rumblings about his possible replacement. Apparent frontrunner, former judge and Assemblyman Frank Seddio, was at the breakfast, meeting and greeting people.

The Associated Press contributed reporting


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Comments [11]

Christian from StPetersburg, NY

...again I left off the date of legislator V.lopez's"confession", captured by Colby Hamilton by 27 Aug.2012 report, on WNYC news.

Oct. 30 2012 08:54 PM
Christian from StPetersburg, NY previous essay, below, was posted here but more precisely has to do with the comments of legislator V.Lopez where he denies-all sexual predation on his office employees. (As reported by Mr.Colby Hamilton.)

Oct. 30 2012 08:47 PM
Christian from StPetersburg, NY

State legislator V.Lopez, in the above, says nothing happened to them. The victim(s) really were him, and S.Silver, too, and that's all it was.

It was extortion they blatantly suggest.

If you somehow take these legislators at their word then the fraud, with obtaining by cover stolen NY state monies, was only used to pay extortionists and not a mistake either. It was only to make it go away, why prosecute extortion any way?

Whereas the additional, just as fraudulent use, of the A.G. office and several of his deputy attorneys, was only used to help them sharpen any settlement contracts and agreements, to help keep those extortionists away and them free of bribery besides. It freed them from everything, another words.

What valiant Legislators these are: quietly fighting who extorts and giving away tens of thousands of stolen state Treasury monies to those who extorted, and to prevent a bribery, I guess.

Oct. 30 2012 08:14 PM
Christian from StPetersburg, NY

...note to Bob Hennelly and Colby Hamilton; in my essay, just below, I inadvertently left out- Who are the "others" he refers to...? -(to follow the 1st sentence....)

Thanks in advance for correcting that.

Oct. 30 2012 07:02 PM
Christian from StPetersburg, NY

...WNYC's Bob Hennelly/Colby Hamilton wrote in the above Speaker Silver"...(that)he and others...."were only looking out for the victims sake.

It was all done for their best interests, they repeat and pray. But never, no never was it ever done, they continue on with their baldfaced half-truths as with flat-out denials, for themselves as for their Office and honor.

And all the while, for only the same victims sake, they had further conned the state comptroller out of 103 thousand dollars, money-under fraudulent cover-taken from the state's Treasury.

But while they con jobbed him and stole from the Treasury they further engaged in repeated duping, of as many as a dozen or so state Deputy Attorney Generals,-all of them conveniently and handily used, for sharpening, for what is the centerpiece of embolden, and legislative like, punishable effect:The "shut up" settlements; i.e., the contract of restraint as for a penalty for any of the victims-if they violate it-by exposing its Authors....for the victims abeyance therefore and therefrom that they signed and completed.

So it is with those-signed-settlements(multiple because there are several victims) the women so sexually abused were either forced by their"legal advisors"or enticed by the, in effect,"payoffs"to sign those. In other words the 10s of thousands of Treasury monies may have "juiced"up their signings.

Oct. 30 2012 06:36 PM
specialmonkey from 10003

get rid of sheldon silver - he is an @sshole! not only does he have a job in albany, he has a lucrative private law practice ... i wonder if any of that firm's business involves city business ... conflict? of course there is a conflict. oh yeah, sheldon silver is an @ssshole!!

Sep. 11 2012 08:14 AM

This "Silver Scandal" has the media cache of being able to include the word "sex" in the headline and pumping up readership, viewership, and listener audience (present media manufacturers excepted) These days scandals with the label "sex" can often be turbo-charged for effect by borrowing from the Sandusky File and creating an "enabler" narrative allegation. Although it is interesting that people are finally realizing how much corruption is masked in budget entries labelled "attorneys' fees", the media has been hesitant to generalize this information in other contexts. Specifically, I am sure I am not the only NYC citizen who continues to wait for some reporting on the amount of "attorneys' fees" (and by who and for whom they were made) expended by the city council of embezzlers recent efforts to avoid prosecution by the U.S. Attorney. President of the Embezzlement Council, Quinn, called the unlawful, surreptitious diversion of public funds business as usual and failure to communicate with her staff (where are they now)
Of course, the monies received from president Quinn's constituencies and power bases might be interesting. For now I would be satisfied with an acknowledgement of the money amounts involved, both in the underlying embezzlement conspiracy and in the "attorney" conduit payoffs that greased the escape hatches for these loathsome thieves.

Sep. 04 2012 12:52 PM
Aaron from Queens

I've always wondered - what gives Silver his staying power? it seems that even Cuomo is afraid of taking him on.

Sep. 04 2012 09:46 AM

Which is the worst offense? Sexually harassing your employees? OR ...stealing $100,000 of public funds? I'm not sure if the first warrants jail time, but I'm sure the second offense does.

Time for Mr Silver to step down and hire a lawyer. He SHOULD NOT BE representing NY at the DNC.

Sep. 04 2012 08:15 AM
Peter Engel from Brooklyn

It's good to watch Shelly squirm for a change. Usually we just have to accept his creepy M.O. as the cost of getting things done.

Sep. 04 2012 01:22 AM
SKV from NYC

I wish Governor Cuomo would ask Sheldon Silver to resign.

What, first he covers up for the guy (bribing victims with our tax dollars!) and then when it's made public he throws the guy under a bus and thinks we won't notice?

This is not "mistakes". This is corruption, pure and simple. Sheldon Silver is thoroughly, dishonorably corrupt.

Sep. 03 2012 11:45 PM

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