Albany, NY – Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver continues to take a beating today from New York newspapers for his role in authorizing a hushed payout of $103,080 in taxpayer monies to quietly settle an earlier harassment allegation against embattled Assemblyman Vito Lopez.
Silver’s secretive actions leave a trail of unanswered questions, including why did word of this settlement come to light only after Lopez was formally censured and stripped of his committee chairmanship in the wake of two additional complaints of harassment? Why didn’t Silver refer the initial complainant to the Assembly Ethics Committee? And why were New York taxpayers forced to foot the bill for Lopez’s disgusting behavior?
In their editorial, the Daily News (http://nydn.us/SMkIBe) calls for a “full probe of the arrangement, as well as of whether Silver gave his blessing.”
The editorial board argues that the “The Assembly Ethics Committee cannot be trusted with such a probe. The case demands the attention of the Joint Commission on Public Ethics. The Assembly under Silver used public money to keep Lopez out of a public mess. There must be a full accounting of how that took place – as well as a complete ventilation of all the evidence presented against him.”
The New York Post (http://bit.ly/QOlEyU) wonders about “Shelly Silver’s future.” Referring to Silver as Lopez’s “enabler” and “effectively, his paymaster,” the paper asks, “Was Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s lightning-fast crackdown last week on a powerful colleague charged with sexually harassing two female interns meant to divert attention from his own misuse of public money?”
The big, unanswered question posed by the Times Union (http://bit.ly/Tozudy) is whether Lopez has “any sense of shame, or remaining sense of duty,” and writes that Lopez “owes it both to what reputation he has left and the people he was supposed to serve to resign. The last thing state government needs is one more tainted and compromised legislator in a desperate, protracted battle to salvage a position of power and responsibility for which he has proven himself so utterly undeserving.”
But Lopez has dug in his heels and has turned a deaf ear to the growing chorus of elected officials calling for his resignation, saying, “The charges made against me are unfair and untrue.”