The Daily News has an incredible story on how New York taxpayers are being bilked out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees to aid Democrats involved in a sexual harassment complaint and subsequent cover-up. The trial is still several months away.
Speaker Sheldon Silver (D) and the Assembly have racked up nearly one million dollars in legal fees to defend Vito Lopez and the Speaker himself from lawsuits filed by two of Lopez’ accusers.
Via the Daily News:
Disgraced ex-Assemblyman Vito Lopez’s sexual harassment scandal is socking taxpayers with a soaring legal bill, the Daily News has learned.
The state already has forked over nearly $700,000 to two law firms hired by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and the Assembly to defend them against lawsuits filed last year by two of Lopez’s accusers – and the trials are still months away.
The accusers, Victoria Burhans and Chloe Rivera, charged in their lawsuits that Silver was “deliberately indifferent” to Lopez’s pervy ways, creating a hostile work environment.
The report also explains that at a rate of $500 per hour, two law firms collected well over $300,000 each by July to defend against the sexual harassment claims.
A report released last year by state ethics regulators provided insight into the actions that led to former Democrat Assemblyman Vito Lopez’ downfall. The report indicated that Lopez told female staffers to wear suggestive clothing, stay with him in hotel rooms, forcibly groped one woman, had his hands wander up her legs, and even infected one woman with pink eye when he made her give him eye drops.
As always however, the cover-up has now become a major aspect of the crime, and Silver has been accused of “encouraging” Lopez to continue his harassing actions by paying the victims to go away with over $100,000 in taxpayer funds.
Those victims were paid off prior to the plaintiffs in this lawsuit being harassed by Lopez. Lopez, having gotten away with his actions thanks to Silver, continued his pattern of harassment.
The lawsuit against Silver alleged that he created an environment of tolerance toward sexual harassment in the Assembly. Silver tried to have the lawsuit thrown out, but it was allowed to move forward back in June.
On a side note, Chloe Rivera’s name might ring a bell to MenRec readers. It was Rivera’s mother who called 911 and filed a sexual harassment/child abuse report with police after she saw Lopez leering at a 14-year-old intern, encouraging other women in his office to dress as “sexy” as the teen had.
The entire case involving Lopez’ sexual harassment of female staff members, to the Silver cover-up, led New York Post columnist Fred Dicker to refer to the Assembly as ” the most sexually abusive workplace in the nation.”
In the meantime, the NYGOP sent out a press release asking where’s “Cowardly Cuomo” on the entire ordeal. The release read in part:
After it was revealed in 2012 that Silver used taxpayer money to silence the victims of sexual assault in the Assembly, both the media and the electorate were calling for Silver to resign.
But not #CowardlyCuomo.
#CowardlyCuomo has had nothing to say about Silver, or little else this week.
In June, Governor Cuomo had been asked about “accusations that the governor interfered with his anti-corruption commission, protected Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver during sex harassment scandals in the chamber, and potentially evaded property taxes.”
Cuomo laughed and said, “Yea, that’s funny.”
The taxpayers of New York might not find the whole thing quite as comical.