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A Long Island lawmaker who leads a panel reviewing an Assembly sexual harassment scandal is hosting a fundraiser featuring the chamber leader as his “honored guest.”
Assemb. Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove) said Friday the fundraiser won’t impact his handling of the case, which focuses on once-powerful Assemb. Vito Lopez (D-Brooklyn).
Lavine, who co-chairs the Legislative Ethics Committee, said he had asked Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) to headline the fundraiser before his committee got the Lopez case and that Silver has appeared at his previous events.
Silver has been under scrutiny in the Lopez case because he approved a $103,000 payment of state money to two former Lopez staffers and their attorneys to settle the case. Silver has said he erred by not sending the case to Legislative Ethics Committee.
Lavine’s fundraiser is slated for Tuesday at the Hotel Albany, two blocks down the hill from the State Capitol.
“There is no problem because the speaker has been at previous fundraisers in Albany,” Lavine said.
He added that he is “just one of the members” of the committee that must determine any sanctions against Lopez.
Last month, the state ethics commission signaled that the Lopez case was moving forward. The Joint Commission on Public Ethics announced it has submitted its findings to two state legislative ethics committees for further action. But JCOPE didn’t send a copy of its report to Silver, his aides say – possibly signaling he’s not a target since subjects of JCOPE investigations are entitled to its findings.
Lavine and other committee members have declined comment so far, but are expected to act within weeks.