Sunday, August 26, 2012 at 11:37 a.m.
On Friday, fellow Voice scribe James King provided us with the Ethics Committee letter that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver of Manhattan wrote to Brooklyn Assemblyman Vito Lopez, in which he told the older official to lay off the intern harassment. Lopez was forced to give up his seniority on the Housing Committee and could no longer hire interns under the age of 21.
Silver concluded the letter by telling Lopez he would be censured for his actions, since they obviously were against both the law and the Assembly's policy, pending a trial.
In normal cases, this would be the opportune time for Lopez to show up in front of the Committee to either argue his case or at least provide a sworn statement. The Assemblyman had to give the Ethics Committee something to work with moving into the later stages of due process. But, as the Daily News reports
, Lopez didn't feel like it:
"Assemblyman Lopez chose neither to come before the committee or provide a sworn statement," Speaker Silver said.
Come on, Lopez, if you're going to get charged with something as serious as sexual harassment, you have to show your face.
However, this case might be a bit deeper than just sexual harassment. In a New York Times article
published yesterday, a report of back room deals was exposed, in which Lopez and Silver consulted a year ago to drop one charge of sexual harassment placed on the Assemblyman by a staffer. In the negotiation, Lopez agreed to public funds, a keep-your-mouths-shut agreement and a workshop for dirty old men.
Represented by Gloria Allred, the lawyer who somehow finds victims of every elite in the country, the employees and money involved were undisclosed, adding just another layer of shadiness to this whole ordeal.
The negotiation runs parallel to a statement made by Silver on Friday, in which he declared "zero tolerance" on the issue of sexual harassment. FYI: a compromise to keep one's mouth shut and attending a workshop for sexual harassers doesn't fall under the same category.
With the Speaker's censure of Lopez in mind, it's evident that the Brooklyn Assemblyman is in a position where he has to say something soon. But, along with this reportedly undisclosed agreement between Silver and Lopez last year, we might have something a bit bigger on our hands.