Updated 09/05/2012 03:00 PM
Lopez Staying Put As State Panel Probes Harassment Case
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Embattled State Assemblyman Vito Lopez is firing back at his detractors as a state ethics panel meets to discuss sexual harassment claims against the now former Brooklyn Democratic leader.
It also comes as the Albany district attorney is said to be joining the investigation led by special prosecutor Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan.
In his first statement since being censured last month, Lopez says he's faced a series of politically-motivated allegations along with unethical or illegal leaks about confidential agreements.
Despite being stripped of his chairmanship of the assembly's housing committee, the 28-year incumbent says statements against him are designed to destroy his credibility.
Lopez says he will not resign saying, "I believe the people should decide who should represent them. I will not capitulate to those self-serving tactics and demands."
While community activists are calling for the assemblyman to resign, there has also been a growing chorus from key members of the party for the Democrat to give up his seat. They range from Senator Chuck Schumer to City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, even Sheldon Silver, who has publicly apologized for keeping complaints about Lopez under wraps.
"We call on Vito Lopez to resign as Assemblyman and party boss so we can begin the process of healing as a community, a community who entrusted him with the power who entrusted him to represent us as an elected official, an elected official who used that trust to violate the workplace rights of women," said Community Activist Juan Ramos.
Near Lopez's district office in Williamsburg, the dent in his armor of support was starting to show Wednesday and many cited the harassment claims against him.
"He has to think about what the people think about, and really hear what the people say," said one Brooklyn resident.
"He got us a $13.9 million grant last year, we replaced all our windows, everything for energy savings, we got everything from a grant from him," said Brooklyn resident.
"Why he had to make the agreements confidential? Nothing wrong, nothing to hide, let everyone see what's out there," said another Brooklyn resident.
On Tuesday, the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics met behind closed doors to discuss Lopez.
The panel would not say whether it will open a formal investigation into the allegations or the actions of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who authorized a secret payment settlement to Lopez's accusers.