A May report released by state ethics regulators provided insight into the actions that led to Democrat Assemblyman Vito Lopez’ censure. The report indicated that Lopez told female staffers to wear suggestive clothing, stay with him in hotel rooms, forcibly groped one woman until his hands wandered up her legs, and even infected one woman with pink eye when he made her give him eye drops.
Lopez also, according to multiple sources, was even witnessed leering at a 14-year-old female intern, commenting on her “sexy attire”, and saying she should be emulated by the other ladies in his office. The incident led to one woman’s mother calling 911, after which police filed a child abuse report.
The disturbing report led columnist Fred Dicker to write that the New York State Assembly is the most sexually abusive workplace in the nation.
On June 4th, the Legislative Ethics Commission doled out punishment for Lopez – a fine of $330,000.
Via Capitol Confidential:
The Legislative Ethics Commission has finally unveiled its determination, reached at a June 4 meeting, to hit former Assemblyman Vito Lopez with a $330,000 fine after it concluded that based on the JCOPE report, a “substantial basis” exists to conclude that Lopez’s treatment of his female staff constituted violations of Public Officers Law.
Part of the ethics determination reads:
Based upon a review of the report and supplemental materials provided by JCOPE, the LEC concurs that by making numerous inappropriate actions and offensive comments of a sexual nature with certain legislative staff members under his supervision and professional employment; subjecting certain female legislative staff members under his supervision and professional employment to unwanted physical contact; and by using or attempting to use his official position to secure unwarranted privileges, including but not limited to offering raises, promotions and bonuses as incentives and threats of adverse employment action to comply with inappropriate requests made by Lopez; and by misappropriating legislative time and resources with respect to the foregoing inappropriate conduct, including but not limited to requiring a Legislative employee to travel with him to Atlantic City when there was no legitimate governmental purpose, that there is a substantial basis to conclude that Vito Lopez violated Public Officers Law§§ 74(3)(d), (f), and (h).
The fine of $330,000 is roughly three times as much money as Assembly Leader Sheldon Silver used in taxpayer money to try to silence the victims in the first place.