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Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver didn’t give much credence Wednesday to Republican calls for him to resign in the wake of his approval of a secret settlement regarding sexual harassment allegations against Assemb. Vito Lopez.
“I think it's political rhetoric,” Silver told reporters at the Democratic delegation breakfast on day two of the party’s national convention. “Republicans have looked for me to resign for a long time. About 19 years."
[Silver has served as Assembly leader since 1994, making him the second-longest tenured speaker in state history.]
Republican state chairman Ed Cox and others have said Silver should step down after he failed to disclose the $135,000 settlement -- $103,000 paid by state taxpayers, $32,000 by Lopez -- until after media inquiries.
Silver said he wasn’t surprised at Lopez’ lashing out at growing calls for his resignation. Lopez has said he's innocent -- despite a determination by the Assembly Ethics Committee that he tried to force contact with young female staffers -- and has said information leaks about the case are politically motivated. He's refused to resign his Assembly office but will step down as chairman of the Brooklyn Democratic committee.
“He’s standing alone right now and trying to deflect the true issue,” Silver said.
Some also have suggested that Silver give up his traditional role of announcing the vote of the New York delegation at the Democratic National Convention tonight. Silver also has declined that suggestion. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who was also at the delegation breakfast Wednesday, jumped in to defend the speaker on that point.
“The Speaker is perfectly poised to fulfill that role and do so proudly,” Gillibrand said. Her Republican opponent, attorney Wendy Long, has said Silver should go.