With just a few weeks remaining in the legislative session, state leaders are hoping to turn the page on an embarrassing period of scandals and focus on legislative issues, but questions surrounding those scandals continue to steal the spotlight. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
Another day at the state capitol brought another day of tough questions for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
Following his unabashed apology Monday for his role in covering up the Vito Lopez sexual harassment scandal, the speaker faced a new round of inquiries Tuesday, when attorneys for the harassment victims issued a statement saying, "It was the Assembly and Lopez that insisted on confidentiality in the settlement, not the women."
The speaker had previously blamed the victims for seeking a confidentially agreement when their claims were quietly settled for more than $100,000.
"This is not a back-and-forth, with two people who have a financial interest in trying to promote whatever negative they can promote," Silver said.
Women's groups were in Albany Tuesday to lobby for Governor Andrew Cuomo's 10-point women's equality agenda. NY1 asked several of the lobbyists whether they thought the speaker should resign.
"Look, I am not going to get into a politics question about who should be in the leadership right now. We are laser-focused on getting the women's equality agenda through," said Andrea Miller of NARAL Pro-Choice.
But members of the Republican Party were less reserved.
"I think the speaker should resign. I think it's clear he did not do his job. And not only did he not do his job, he actively covered up this sexual harassment and abuse," said Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin, a Republican from Troy.
Questions also persisted about the state ethics commission known as JCOPE and whether Silver's appointees prevented it from investigating the speaker.
"I don't understand how anybody can conclude that there was no determination on it. I think it was very clear," the speaker said.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said JCOPE cannot be made more independent.
"Do you think the Legislature is going to appoint an independent body that can investigate them? And that was the essence of the JCOPE. And their positions, both the senate and the assembly, was no," Cuomo said.
When asked about his women's equality agenda, the governor made the point this week that he believes the sexual harassment scandal only strengthens his argument to pass it.
Republicans object, however, to a provision that they believe expands abortion rights, and that opposition is not dissipating.