Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s handling of sexual harassment complaints last year was “not good,” but said she had no opinion on whether he should remain the head of the Legislature’s lower chamber.
Silver, D-Manhattan, was criticized in a pair of reports last week for not immediately forwarding two harassment charges against now-former Assemblyman Vito Lopez to the Assembly Ethics Committee, instead signing off on a confidential settlement with the two accusers. When two other accusers stepped forward, Silver — who apologized earlier this week — referred their complaints.
When asked Wednesday about Silver’s conduct, Stewart-Cousins was critical of him.
“As the speaker said, the handling of the case was not good,” Stewart-Cousins said. “I would have handled it differently. As I’ve said before, interview after interview, my focus is on the Senate and his house will focus on whether or not he should remain leader.”
When pressed, Stewart-Cousins said she didn’t have an opinion one way or the other on whether Silver should stay. Some (mostly Republican) lawmakers and women’s groups have called on Silver to step down or for the Assembly to put his leadership to a vote.
“The Assembly gets to make that decision just as the Senate chooses their leadership,” Stewart-Cousins said.
Here’s video of the exchange: