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For Immediate Release
On this Labor Day, I applaud the appointment of Dan Donovan as the Special Prosecutor investigating improprieties in the Assembly’s handling of the recent sexual harassment charges against Assemblyman Vito Lopez, including a secret state-funded settlement payment of over $100 thousand approved by the Speaker of the Assembly, Sheldon Silver. This is a welcome development and Mr. Donovan’s appointment may move us a bit closer to a workplace free from sexual and other forms of workplace harassment. However, the whole episode highlights the insular culture of the New York State Assembly and cries out for more transparency and diversity of all kinds there. While I await the findings of the special prosecutor, it is fairly obvious that the Assembly leadership valued keeping the whole matter from the people of the State of New York more than it did disciplining its membership and ridding the Assembly of a perpetrator of sexual harassment. In doing so, Sheldon Silver missed an important opportunity to send a clear message that sexual harassment has no place in any workplace and that all individuals have the right to be treated with dignity and respect in the workplace (and elsewhere, for that matter!).
I served for many years on the Diversity Council in my place of employment and was a consistent voice against sexual harassment and for the notion that all employees deserved to be treated with dignity and respect. First and foremost, treating employees with dignity and respect is good for business and would be good for state government. Second of all, and aside from any notions of what is good for any employer, employees have a right to be able to pursue their hopes and dreams without anyone, no matter how powerful, using his or her position in an inappropriate manner.
Recent articles suggest that New York Democrats have abandoned the former leader of the Brooklyn Democrats, Vito Lopez, although most appear to have stopped short of demanding his immediate resignation from the Assembly. Unfortunately, those same articles indicate that Assembly Democrats, in particular, and some other Democrats in the State have closed ranks around their Speaker, Sheldon Silver.
While the investigation of the Special Prosecutor will hopefully yield more light on the handling of the affair by the Speaker, at the very least, the evidence we have seen highlights the real dangers when power becomes too concentrated in the hands of any one individual or party. Lord Acton was supposed to have said that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The unhealthy power of the Assembly leadership and the behavior of all those involved in this affair certainly gives ample credence to this supposition.
I call on Vito Lopez to immediately resign from the New York State Assembly. I also call for Sheldon Silver to immediately step down from his leadership post and depending upon the results of Dan Donovan’s investigation, to also possibly resign from the Assembly.
While such steps will perhaps address the immediate issue, the only long-term solution is to elect different independent voices with different backgrounds and experience to the New York State Assembly. That is why I have decided to run as a Republican in the 46th Assembly District. While the current incumbent Democratic Assemblyman in the 46th Assembly District, Alec Brook-Krasney, has remained untouched by the scandal, his close association with both Vito Lopez and Sheldon Silver, and his almost unparalleled record of loyalty to the leadership as evidenced by his voting record, make one wonder if he could ever be the kind of fighter for the people and independent voice that the residents of his district (and the employees of the Assembly) deserve. We need an Assemblyman who will be part of the solution, not part of the problem.