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Rotten in New York: Assemblyman Lopez’s Sexual harrassment scandal, Speaker Silver’s Ethics scandal; Welcome to the real war on women – Democrats!

September 4, 2012

Something rotten in New York

HotAir posted at 12:31 pm on September 2, 2012 by Jazz Shaw

Sheldon SilverWe normally focus on political news at the national level here, but every once in a while a story congeals like scum on the surface of a state level pond which merits attention. Such is the case in New York State this summer. The tale actually began a while back, when an investigation into the , er… “affairs” of State Assemblyman Vito Lopez (D-Brooklyn) determined that he had sexually harassed two young, female staffers, leading to his censure on the Assembly floor. And if the story had stopped there it would hardly be unusual enough in Big Apple politics to merit a column.

But that event turned out to be the the pebble which started a series of ripples across the pond. Now we find out from the Wall Street Journal that more ethics investigations are underway, this time into the involvement of the Assembly Speaker, Sheldon Silver. It seems that Shelly didn’t want to bother the busy folks on the ethics committee when he first caught wind of this story and decided to settle things the old fashioned way.

Two groups filed a formal complaint Wednesday asking New York state’s ethics enforcement agency to investigate state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s handling of sexual-harassment complaints against a high-ranking lawmaker.

The National Organization for Women and Common Cause, a government transparency group, submitted the formal complaint, calling for a probe into Mr. Silver’s approval of a secret $100,000 taxpayer-funded payment to settle accusations by female employees against Assemblyman Vito Lopez.

That’s just lovely, isn’t it? In a state that’s already going broke, 100,000 taxpayer dollars get diverted to a secret slush fund to pay off the women in an attempt to keep Vito safe and sound in Brooklyn.

If you don’t live in New York, you might not be familiar with that name, but he’s a legend around here. The Republicans traditionally control the state senate (by a razor thin margin) but it’s not “the Democrats” who control the Assembly… it’s Sheldon Silver. And he’s held that body in lock-down for nearly two decades. He’s the most powerful Democrat in the state – even more so than the Governor, according to many accounts.

But wait… the trail of nasty deeds doesn’t stop there! Oh no, the state Attorney General had to get in on the act as well. Michael Goodman reports:

Meanwhile, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is trying to wiggle out of any responsibility for the secret payout. That won’t be easy because an e-mail trail shows his office helped Silver craft the agreement and the confidentiality clause.

It counts as big news that the Attorney General’s Office played any role in conspiring to hide from taxpayers such seedy deals. Are there other cases we should know about?

Why yes, Michael, there are. The DA in Brooklyn, Charles Hynes, had apparently been stonewalling any investigation into Vito’s dirty laundry until recently. It’s only now, with the full light of day shining on these activities and public pressure mounting that the investigation has been turned over to the Republican Staten Island DA, Dan Donovan.

New York City and Albany Democrats are currently fleeing like cockroaches when the kitchen light is switched on. It will be interesting to see how much further this one goes up the food chain, particularly this close to an election. Does this mean some of these seats are going to be switching over to the GOP column? Don’t kid yourself. This is New York. Charlie Rangel still has a job here, for Pete’s sake.

NY – War on Women: Democrat Assemblyman Vito Lopez Accused of Fostering Sexually Hostile Workplace

by Dana Loesch 30 Aug 2012

Brooklyn Democrat Assemblyman Vito J Lopez is accused of creating what female employees describe as a “sexually hostile” work environment.

Five women who worked for Vito J. Lopez, the assemblyman at the center of a broadening sexual harassment scandal, described in interviews an atmosphere of sexual pressure and crude language in his office, with frequent unwanted advances by him and others, requests for provocative dress, personal questions about their boyfriends and fears of reprisals if they complained.

By their accounts, Mr. Lopez, 71, a Brooklyn Democrat, told some women not to wear bras to work. He requested they wear short skirts and high heels. He gave them cash to buy jewelry and complimented them on their figures, giving special attention to those he called “well endowed.”

He asked about their personal lives, urging them to break up with boyfriends, and berated those women — all of whom were new to politics — who did not compliment him effusively enough, according to several of the women interviewed.

[…]

The Assembly released a letter censuring Mr. Lopez, one of the city’s last powerful political bosses, taking away his committee chairmanship and barred him from employing interns or anyone under the age of 21. The letter described “pervasive unwelcome verbal conduct” and found that Mr. Lopez verbally harassed, groped and kissed two of his staff members without their consent.

It’s a troubling trend for Democrats, especially during a campaign year. The Obama White House stands accused of actual pay inequality; Obama’s team has been described as a “boys’ club;” and Democrats attacked Ann Romney for being a stay-at-home-mom.

Exhibit B in the real “war on women.”

NY Democratic leaders call for Lopez to step down

NY Democratic leaders call for Lopez to step down (and a long time coming – this ain’t the first time, many past allegations of corruption at play too, mostly money related – bribes, payoffs, ect.)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — So long, Vito! New York Democratic leaders gave scandal-scarred Brooklyn Assembyman Vito Lopez the heave-ho today during their first breakfast session to open their party convention. The New York delegates either said Lopez should…  10:30 AM

Corruption Springs eternal: reining in NY’s shady pols

Last Updated:          1:18 AM, September 3,  2012

Sheldon SilverThe Issue: Speaker Shelly Silver’s handling of  sexual-harassment charges against Assemblyman Vito Lopez.

***

Thank you, New York Post, for exposing more corruption in New York’s  political cesspool (“The Lopez Stain Spreads,” Editorial, Aug. 30).

To rephrase Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver’s shocking admission, he should  not be using taxpayer dollars as hush money for his fellow Democrats; these  matters should be prosecuted like all other crimes committed by non-Democratic  politicians, and when he commits bribery again, he might tell someone.

How does the most corrupt man in New York politics rise to a position of such  power? When will this cesspool be drained?

G. Hopps Babylon

***

Please tell me where Gov. Cuomo’s head is. My tax dollars are collected to  keep the state running as well as possible, not to pay off victims of sexual  harassment by an elected official.

Assemblyman Vito Lopez should be held financially responsible for his  actions.

Many programs involved with helping others have lost funding, and now I can  see why: The politicians we have put in office are too busy giving our tax  dollars away or being charged with stealing them.

JCOPE should really be titled JOKE. The joke’s on all of those who voted  these individuals into office.

Kim Cody Whitestone

***

The political culture ruling this state is more like that of the Mafia than a  legitimate governing body.

There are four ruling families — the executive branch, judicial branch,  Assembly and Senate. Each has its crew, made up of warring political soldiers  who battle endlessly over turf and cash.

As in all organized-crime syndicates, the cash comes from shaking down  legitimate businesses and individuals — all in the name of protecting and  regulating the victims of the shakedown.

Hopefully, Cuomo will start acting more like Rudy Giuliani than John Gotti,  and we’ll finally get a more honest government.

Scott VanKuren Middleburgh

***

If it’s true that Shelly used taxpayer money to buy silence for a colleague,  he should be the next politician wearing “silver” bracelets.

Rob Fishbein Woodmere

***

Now’s a good time to see if Cuomo’s highly touted ethics commission does  anything or if it’s as useless as we all think.

My bet is that it is just as successful as his 2 percent property-tax cap, “balanced” budget and public-employee pension reform. They are all just smoke  and mirrors.

Peter Hess Albany

***

As a dedicated Post reader hailing from another liberal Democratic stronghold  well known for its own political scoundrels and shenanigans, I doff my cap to  the epic corruption and skullduggery of New York’s elected officials.

From Eliot Spitzer to Silver, Pedro Espada to Lopez, John Liu to Naomi  Rivera, each day’s Post brings new and lurid stories of abuses of power and  contempt for law, ethics and morality.

I used to think Massachusetts was bad, and still do, but comparing the Empire  State and the Bay State in terms of public corruption is like comparing the  Yankees and Red Sox: You guys are in a league of your own.

George Morancy South Boston, Mass.

***

“I take full responsibility,” says Silver. If only that were the case.

Taking responsibility once also included facing consequences for whatever bad  behavior had transpired.

At one time, a letter of resignation would be in order, but no longer. Our  dysfunctional political class now considers taking responsibility as the  end-all, and no punishment is necessary.

Yet these guys want a raise? What a joke.

Bruce Hesch Pleasantville

***

If people actually believe Cuomo is going to bang heads with New York’s No. 1  crook, they know nothing about New York politics.

Cuomo sees Silver as one of his tickets to the White House in 2016.

He knows full well, as does his father, that corruption runs so deep in  Albany that he wouldn’t stand a chance at putting a dent in it.

A. Levy Manhattan

Attorney General Schneiderman trying to bury Vito scandal: GOP Chair Cox sounds off

Last Updated:          4:54 AM, September 3,  2012

Fredric  U. Dicker  INSIDE ALBANY

A “blatantly political” probe. “The timing of the release of information on the investigation of private  equity firms by someone whose involvement in the Albany Democratic  sexual-harassment scandal is going to be investigated by JCOPE is blatantly  political,’’ Chairman Ed Cox told The Post, referring to the state Joint  Commission on Public Ethics.

Schneiderman, an aggressively partisan Democrat who was named by Obama  earlier this year to head a national task force on fraud in the home-mortgage  industry, initially claimed early last week that his office had no involvement  in approving a $103,000 secret deal that was signed by Assembly Speaker Silver  (D-Manhattan) to settle claims brought by two women who accused Assemblyman  Lopez, the Brooklyn Democratic chairman, of sexual harassment.

Lopez paid another $32,000 out of his pocket. But e-mails and other evidence released later in the week showed lawyers in  Schneiderman’s office worked closely with Silver’s staff in developing the  settlement. Silver, who has insisted he did nothing wrong in arranging the settlement but  concedes he erred in keeping the details secret, and Cuomo have said they’d  welcome an investigation by JCOPE.

The panel is slated to hold a closed-door meeting tomorrow, and an  investigation is expected to be authorized.

Even some high-level state Democrats privately accuse Schneiderman of playing  politics by launching the investigation.

“Can anybody believe this becoming public at this time was a coincidence with  Schneiderman’s other problem, the Shelly settlement? Schneiderman is under  assault for having a hand in the Silver deal, and all of a sudden this comes  out?” a senior Democrat said yesterday.

Cox, meanwhile, called on Cuomo to apologize for a harsh attack on  Republicans by his newly named state Democratic co-chair, Syracuse Mayor  Stephanie Miner, who called the GOP “a party of hatred that wraps up their  hatred in clever 30-second sound bites.”

“For her to inject that kind of language into the political discourse here is  completely unacceptable, and the governor should condemn it,” Cox said.

A request for comment from Cuomo’s office wasn’t returned.

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