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Sharp Criticism For Silver in Ethics Report

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sheldon silver

In a report released today, the state ethics commission was sharply critical of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s handling of the Vito Lopez sexual harassment cases.  The long-awaited report accuses Silver’s office of protecting Lopez from public scrutiny and of disregarding Assembly rules for failing to refer complaints from several employees to the legislative ethics committee.

The document included a portion of an email from an Assembly lawyer that read, “Money flow and our desire to keep this away from media scrutiny complicates the resolution of this matter a bit.”  The report was made public shortly after a special prosecutor announced Lopez would not face charges in Brooklyn because no laws were broken within the jurisdiction.  The prosecutor, Daniel Donovan, Jr., added, however, that “the chief concern of those in the Assembly was mitigating the Assembly’s damages… That goal outweighed any interest in investigating or disciplining Assembly Member Lopez or in preventing similar occurrences in the future.”

A short time ago, Silver’s office released the following statement:

Speaker Sheldon Silver has stated that the actions that were taken represented a good-faith belief that the Assembly was acting in the interests of the victims, and that has not changed.  A full review of the facts by both JCOPE and the Special Prosecutor has found that all actions by the Assembly were lawful and there was no basis for an ethics complaint against the Speaker or his staff.  However, as the Speaker stated in August, it was a mistake not to immediately refer the initial complaints to the Assembly Committee on Ethics and Guidance, one that will not be repeated.  The Speaker is deeply committed to ensuring that all our employees are treated with respect and dignity.  As to Assemblyman Lopez, sanctions have been imposed and the Speaker has called for him to step down from the Assembly. Given that the JCOPE investigation has found significant violations of the Public Officers Law by Assemblyman Lopez, Speaker Silver renews his call for him to resign.


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