Governor Andrew Cuomo demanded on Thursday that the state Assembly expel Brooklyn Assemblyman Vito Lopez, following the release of a state ethics report which details Lopez's alleged sexual harassment, and other lawmakers were asking about the role played by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to keep the incidents secret. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
Even before the ethics report was made public, both Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Governor Andrew Cuomo had called on Brooklyn Assemblyman Vito Lopez to resign, due to his alleged sexual harassment of female staffers.
On Thursday, Cuomo went a step further.
"I believe he should resign. And if he doesn't resign, I think the body, although I don't know the exact procedure, should expel him," the governor said.
Silver has not indicated that any further disciplinary action will be taken against Lopez. But just as the state Senate expelled Hiram Montserrate in 2010 for assaulting his girlfriend, there are mechanisms for the Assembly to do the same to Lopez.
"My recommendation to the Assembly is that they convene another special select committee, and they get outside counsel and they look at this situation because the JCOPE report clearly said that Assembly member Lopez violated the Public Officers Law," said Staten Island-Brooklyn Senator Diane Savino.
High-ranking female elected officials stopped short of calling for punitive action against Silver. At least one good government group is calling for a vote on the speaker's leadership.
"I think that Speaker Silver was correct, clearly, to say that he made mistakes. And he needs to move quickly to address those and to take real steps to put reforms in place so those mistakes never happen again," said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
The report finds that a desire to keep the Lopez allegations quiet by Silver and his staff led to a confidentiality agreement which then allowed more abuse to take place.
"Well, I think that that has been recognized now as the problem. That was the mistake that the speaker acknowledged," said Manhattan Assemblywoman Deborah Glick.
Several Democratic Assembly members did not want to speak with NY1 regarding Thursday's story, but one said privately that ultimately the members of the Assembly majority need to decide who their leader will be based on who will best negotiate for them and their values. As of Thursday, most members still believed Silver was that individual.