Poll: Sheldon Silver should resign over Vito Lopez scandal

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) during a news

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) during a news conference at the Capitol. (May 20, 2013) (Credit: AP)

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Half of New Yorkers surveyed say that Sheldon Silver should resign as Assembly speaker after he mishandled a sexual harassment scandal, according to a new poll released Wednesday.

The Quinnipiac University poll also had not-so-good news for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. It found his job approval rating at 53 percent, the lowest since the Democrat took office in 2011.

Silver (D-Manhattan), has never enjoyed good approval ratings statewide. In fact, his highest approval rating ever was just 38 percent in 2008. But after the sexual harassment scandal that led to the resignation of Assemb. Vito Lopez (D-Brooklyn), Silver's rating hit an all-time low Wednesday, 21 percent.

Further, 51 percent of those surveyed said Silver should step down, while 22 percent said he should remain as speaker, a post he's held since 1994. A Silver aide dismissed the survey.

"Polls change all the time, so we are focused on making sure we pass legislation important to New Yorkers," said Silver spokesman Michael Whyland.

Newsday reported Tuesday a state ethics commission is set to fine Lopez more than $300,000 for violations of the public officers law. Silver has come under fire for approving a confidential agreement -- using $103,000 in taxpayers' money -- to settle sexual harassment claims filed by former Lopez staffers.

Subsequent investigations determined Lopez routinely groped and harassed young female staffers. A civil panel concluded that Lopez's conduct violated state public officers law.

A separate criminal prosecutor, Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan, determined that no "chargeable crime" had occurred.

Cuomo's approval rating hit an all-time high -- 74 percent -- in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy, according to Quinnipiac. But it's declined since.

Quinnipiac surveyed 1,075 to June 3. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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