While State Assemblyman Vito Lopez officially resigned Monday, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is taking responsibility for his role in the sexual harassment scandal. In a late-day press conference, Silver apologized for what many are calling a cover-up. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
It's a mistake that has been dogging Sheldon Silver for eight months: failure to follow proper channels when sexual harassment allegations were made by female staffers against Assemblyman Vito Lopez.
"I deeply regret not referring the original complaint to the Assembly ethics and guidance committee, and for this, I am sorry," Silver said.
At least one member of the assembly's Democratic caucus has joined several Republicans in calling on Silver to resign.
"Until Sheldon Silver resigns, I will suspend my participation in the Democratic caucus," said Buffalo Assemblyman Michael Kearns. "The Democratic Party that I believe in stands up for women's rights."
Silver said he never considered resigning, and he got support from the governor Monday.
"People say, 'I think the speaker should resign for the way he handled it.' I said, 'I don't,'" Governor Andrew Cuomo said. "It's a fine topic. I just disagree."
Many questions remain, however, including why the speaker's office signed off on a confidential financial settlement of more than $100,000 in taxpayer funds to two victims.
"I was not there. I was not at the mediation," Silver said. "It was my understanding that it came out of the mediation, and that's the only understanding I have."
Silver was also asked why it took him 36 hours to call for Lopez to be expelled from the legislature after the scathing report from the state ethics commission was released detailing the allegations.
"The timing of the release of the report and my religious convictions prevented me from actually communicating, or being communicated with, as to the content of that report," he said.
The 68-page ethics report was released last Wednesday, and the speaker issued a statement that very day urging Lopez to resign. But he didn't call for expulsion until the next day, hours after the governor had.