Updated 08/31/2012 08:10 PM
SI DA Named Special Prosecutor In Lopez Investigation
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Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan has been named special prosecutor in the sexual harassment investigation against Assemblyman Vito Lopez.
Donovan, a Republican, was tapped after Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes recused himself to avoid the appearance of impropriety.
The Brooklyn Democratic Committee, which Lopez headed until stepping down this week, backed Hynes for re-election.
Lopez denies that he sexually harassed members of his staff.
But documents show female Lopez staffers were originally seeking $1.2 million in damages before Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver negotiated a secret $100,000 settlement.
Lopez kicked in $32,000 of his own money.
He's been stripped of his leadership role in the Assembly but has resisted calls to resign.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has called for the state's ethics commission to look into Lopez and the secret settlement.
The role of the Attorney General and the State Comptroller's office is also being questioned.
Citizens Union wants the state's ethics commission to look at them too.
"This is a very serious matter that has many New Yorkers upset and annoyed and, again, disgusted with how Albany conducts its business," said Dick Dadey of Citizens Union.
The Comptroller's office said it processed the settlement payment but did not approve it.
The Attorney General's office released emails showing how it consulted the Assembly during the drafting the settlement.
In a statement, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said that "our office policy requires that agreements of this kind do not include confidentiality provisions."
Schneiderman said he stands ready to work with the ethics commission.
With the launch of a criminal investigation in Brooklyn, Lopez's colleagues wondered whether his days are numbered.
"I don't believe the outlook is rosy from what we're hearing, in terms of his tenure," said Assemblyman Karim Camara.
"It's hard to predict the future," said Assemblyman Richard Gottfried. "But I think it's clear he should not continue in public office and he should resign as soon as possible."
Others want to stay out of it.
On Friday, Councilman Steve Levin, a former Lopez staffer, wouldn't talk to NY1 on camera. But he said he never saw inappropriate behavior from the Assemblyman.