A freshman Assemblyman took criticism of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to a whole new level today, comparing the longtime legislative leader to former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno.
Assemblyman Steve Katz, a Republican from Yorktown, Westchester County, and known for his outspokenness, announced he will hold a news conference Tuesday to call for Silver’s resignation. Silver has been criticized for secretly agreeing to settle sexual-harassment claims against veteran Assemblyman Vito Lopez, D-Brooklyn. The settlement included $103,080 in public funds.
In the meantime, however, Katz linked Silver to the late Paterno, who came under intense public scrutiny for his role in the Jerry Sandusky child-sexual-abuse scandal. Paterno died in January.
Here’s the relevant portion of Katz’ statement:
“How are Joe Paterno at Penn State and Sheldon Silver similar? They both covered up sexual crimes. They both chose to do the wrong thing so that their professional interests would endure unmolested. Sheldon Silver’s actions are unconscionable. It is time for Speaker Silver to do the right thing and resign. It would be a significant step towards cleaning up Albany.”
Silver, meanwhile, admitted making a mistake with the settlement “from the perspective of transparency,” but has said it was both legal and ethical and made at the wishes of the alleged victims.
Yesterday, he said he would “welcome” an investigation by the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics in order to “allow all of the facts to come out.”
“Those facts will show that any decision by the Assembly to enter into any settlement agreement was both legal and ethical and made out of deference to the wishes of the complainants,” Silver said in a statement.
JCOPE has called a special meeting for Tuesday, but has warned it will likely take place in private.