Silver: Lopez not a distraction

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Spin Cycle

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   Amid Republican calls to resign in light of his handling of a sexual harassment scandal, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said the issue hasnt been a distraction at the Democratic National Convention.

   The scandal centers on complaints against Assemb. Vito Lopez (D-Brooklyn), who was censured by an Assembly committee for trying to force contact with young female staffers. It also involves Silvers (D-Manhattan) handling of a previous complaint against Lopez that resulted in a $135,000 settlement with taxpayers covering $103,000 of that.

   Asked if it was a distraction at the convention in Charlotte, N.C., Silver said: I dont think it should. This is about one isolated individual. It is not systemic.

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  Silver and numerous other lawmakers have called on Lopez to resign he has declined.

  Now, some Republicans have said Silver should step down because he approved the secret settlement payment. The latest: Joe Carvin, the Rye town supervisor and GOP challenger to Rep. Nita Lowey (D-Westchester).

  Silver has said he will explore whether the Assembly can force Lopez out. In 2010, the Senate expelled Hiram Monserrate after he was convicted of misdemeanor assault. Lopez hasnt been charged criminally, though a special prosecutor is investigating.

  If there was a criminal charge, a criminal conviction, Silver said, that would be a different set of circumstances.

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