Much to the dismay of the National Organization of Women, women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred, Assembly candidate Frank Commisso Jr., and thousands of New Yorkers, we’re sure, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is off the hook for his tax-payer funded coverup of allegations of sexual misconduct by his old pal/current disgraced Assemblyman Vito Lopez.
The Joint Commission on Public Ethics has decided to not investigate Silver’s role in sweeping sexual harassment allegations made against Lopez under the rug by paying two of his accusers more than $103,000 in taxpayer money to essentially keep their mouths shut about Lopez.
After Lopez’s initial accusers were successfully paid off, Lopez allegedly sexually harassed at least two other young, female staffers in his office — which makes sense considering Silver gave him the impression that he was free to feel up whomever he wants by paying off two of his accusers.
“JCOPE must investigate the full extent to which
members of the Assembly staff, and of Mr. Lopez’s former and current
staff, were aware of his conduct, and the Speaker’s role in burying
these egregious charges. We will not allow the New York State Assembly
to disregard women’s rights.”
Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY said last week.
Further reading on Lopez’s pervy-ness:
New York State Republican Party went further, calling for Silver to
step aside from his role as speaker — and that’s because this isn’t the
first time the speaker has used his powerful position in state politics
to coverup allegations of sexual misconduct by one his buddies.
In 2001, a young female staffer accused Silver’s former chief counsel J. Michael Boxley of sexually assaulting
her in his apartment. Rather than go to police, she opted to pursue the
matter through the Assembly, which turned out to be a mistake.
The investigation into Boxley was soon closed (thanks to Silver), and he remained on Silver’s staff as if nothing ever happened.
Two years later, Boxley pleaded guilty to sexual misconduct — in a
sweetheart deal that kept him out of jail — for an attack on a
different woman. Then, in 2006, Silver and the Assembly agreed to pay
$500,000 to a Jane Doe because the speaker failed to properly
investigate the initial accusations and for “tolerating a culture of
sexual harassment in the Assembly.”
Given the fact that both
coverups led to further abuse, the GOP has compared Silver’s actions (or
inactions) to administrators at Penn State University, who hid
allegations that former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was
sexually abusing dozens of young boys.
While Republicans — and
others — are calling for Silver’s head, state Democrats have remained
silent about what should happen to the speaker for his role in the
coverup. That’s because Silver remains one of the most powerful
Democrats in New York, and crossing him could spell political suicide —
take former Assemblyman Mike Bragman, for example.
In 2000, Bragman
attempted a coup to remove Silver as speaker. It failed — and Silver
stripped him of privileges, staff, and assigned him an office “the size of a broom closet.” Bragman and his supporters were then muscled out of office by primary challengers backed by Silver.
Regardless, Silver covered up allegations of sexual misconduct to help out one of his buddies and got away with it…again.