Embattled State Assemblyman Vito Lopez is getting ready to run for the City Council, and he held his first fundraiser for that campaign Thursday night. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
It's not yet official, but all early signs point to a City Council run for Vito Lopez.
At the first fundraiser for Lopez's new campaign committee at a Williamsburg restaurant Thursday night, political opponents held a protest outside.
"Vito Lopez has been operating in a explicitly corrupt fashion for 30 years," said former Brooklyn District Leader Lincoln Restler. "It is, frankly, shocking that he is not in jail for the corruption he perpetrated as an Assemblyman and as the leader of Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council."
Last August, it was revealed that the state has paid more than $100,000 to settle sexual harassment claims against Lopez brought by former female staffers in his office. More allegations have since come to light.
The state's Joint Committee on Public Ethics (JCOPE) has issued a report on the alleged conduct, but so far, the contents of that report have been withheld from the public.
Sources who are familiar with what the report told NY1 that it paints Lopez in a very negative light.
"His actions as a sexual predator, abusing and harassing multiple women on his staff, is what are ultimately bringing him down and will put him behind bars," Restler said.
If he chooses to run for the City Council, Lopez will face more than one candidate, including Antonio Reynoso, who served as chief of staff to current councilwoman Diana Reyna.
"It is a free country," said one local resident. "However, the fact that he would even consider running is quite appalling. The fact that he has supporters is even more appalling."
Lopez declined to speak with NY1 on camera, but in a statement, he said he believes the opposition to his running comes from outside groups and political opponents. He said he will make a determination on whether or not to run in the next few weeks, and that it will be based in part on how much money he can raise.