Sheldon Silver must resign.
“… a previous sexual harassment claim was quietly settled by the Assembly earlier this year, in an arrangement that included public money, a confidentiality agreement and mandatory attendance by Mr. Lopez at a sexual harassment workshop.”
The payment was authorized on June 13th, preceding the complaints from two new women which prompted Lopez’ censuring. The new allegations were made in mid-July. The previous settlement creates a scenario in which calls into question what might have been. Had Silver taken bold, swift actions when responding to the first case, perhaps the two later complainants would never have been sexually harassed.
Officials are calling the secret payment “unprecedented” and “unfathomable”, while government watchdog groups are demanding an investigation.
Silver’s inaction is not an isolated incident. Assembly members have been wrapped up in scandals involving current and former interns in 2006, 2007, and 2008 according to the Times, and Silver has oft been criticized for his lethargic response to such scandals.
What’s more, Silver’s use of taxpayer funds to settle harassment cases is not in fact, “unprecedented” at all.
In 2003, Silver was criticized for a slow response to a case involving his former aide, J. Michael Boxley, who was accused of rape and later pled guilty to sexual misconduct. Three years later, the Assembly agreed to pay $500,000 of taxpayer money to settle the case.
Silver has consistently swept sexual harassment complaints under the rug, has continually used taxpayer funds to placate victims, and by extension has allowed these unprofessional and abhorrent behaviors to be perpetrated upon other victims. He has proven willing to sacrifice ethics for his allies in government.
He is a panderer to predators, and must resign.