Vito Lopez drops Brooklyn Dems leadership position, won't seek new term
Vito Lopez's political days are now numbered.
The longtime state Assemblyman announced Tuesday that he will be stepping down as the chair of the Brooklyn Democratic Party and would not seek a 15th term in office.
On Friday, the state Assembly voted to censure the 71-year-old following charges that he sexually harassed staff members.
"My political history has been to fight through challenges and political conflicts, but, for the sake of loved ones and the Democratic Party, it is important that I take this action," Lopez said in his statement.
Hours after Lopez's statement was released, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver issued an apology for using taxpayer money to pay for a $103,000 settlement in a sexual harrassment case against an unnamed Assembly member.
As part of the settlement, there was no disclosure of the Assembly Ethics Committee probe.
"Going forward I will work with independent experts and our Counsel's office to ensure that we put in place policies that both protect the interests of victims and provide adequate transparency and accountability to the public," Silver said in a statement.
Following Lopez's censure, several prominent New York elected officials called for Lopez's resignation, including City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz.
"I am relieved that he did the right thing today by announcing he will not seek re-election as county chair of the Kings County Democratic Committee," Markowitz said in a statement.
Lopez, however, continued to maintain his innocence in his statement.
"I have never sexually harassed any staff, and I hope and intend to prove in the coming months the political nature of these accusations," he said.