News, views and commentary on Long Island, state and national politics
NY Ethics board threatens to release Lopez report
The state ethics panel declared Tuesday it would release its sexual-harassment allegations report involving Assemb. Vito Lopez in mid-May if lawmakers fail to release it themselves.
But the warning clashes with legislators’ promise to withhold the report until a special prosecutor determines whether criminal charges should be filed against the once-powerful Brooklyn politician.
The state Joint Commission on Public Ethics forwarded an essentially sealed report to the state Legislative Ethics Commission in February. Though the panel didn’t comment on its investigation at the time, its members previously acknowledged they were looking at allegations that Lopez groped and harassed former employees.
Separately, Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan has been named as special prosecutor to launch a criminal probe.
Assemb. Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove), co-chairman of the Legislative Ethics Commission, previously said his panel would not release the Lopez report until Donovan completes his probe. Lavine declined comment Tuesday.
The scandal erupted last summer when Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) disclosed he approved paying $103,000 in public money to settle claims by some former Lopez staffers.
Lopez paid an additional $32,000, though he has denied the accusations. Silver has acknowledged he mishandled the case by not sending the complaints to the Assembly Ethics Committee.
Lopez has rebuffed numerous calls to resign, although he was stripped of his post as chairman of the housing committee and also lost his post as chairman of the Brooklyn Democratic Committee.