Assemblyman Kieran Michael Lalor, R-Fishkill, Dutchess County, joined colleagues Wednesday in formally requesting a federal investigation of Speaker Sheldon Silver, who has come under fire for his handling of sexual harassment allegations against a senior member of the Democratic conference.
Silver agreed to secretly settle with two women who accused Assemblyman Vito Lopez, D-Brooklyn, of sexual harassment. A harrowing report released last month by the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics detailed eight female staffer’s claims against Lopez, including accusations that he groped them, made lewd comments about their clothing and tried to force them to share hotel rooms with him.
Lopez has since resigned, but most of Silver’s conference is standing behind him, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo has not called for him to step down.
Lalor and 11 Assembly colleagues, including Steve Katz of Yorktown, Putnam County, and Bill Nojay, Pittsford, Monroe County, sent a letter to Wednesday to Richard Hartunian, U.S. attorney for the state’s northern district.
“As the leader of the Assembly, Speaker Silver authorized settlement payments to numerous women over the years who have been the victims of sexual harassment and abuse by members of the Assembly and their staff,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter. “These payouts of taxpayer money have been used to cover-up criminal actions perpetrated in Albany.The use of intimidation and graft has made lawless and unethical behavior in the Capitol the norm.”
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