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:
The 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.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 7, 2012