Democrat Candidate: Sexual Harassment in NY Government ‘Routine’

September 10, 2012 at 11:14 am (Monica Arias Miranda, New York, Scandal, Sexual Harassment, Sheldon Silver, Vito Lopez, Women)

Democrat Assembly Leader Sheldon Silver’s unethical coverup of sexual harassment claims against prominent politicians and former staff, has been covered extensively here at the Mental Recession. 

Despite what would seem like a tactic that should be universally denounced – using taxpayer money to pay off victims of sexual harassment – all of New York state’s top Democrats have stood by Silver.  Deligitimizing the seriousness of women being the victims of sexual harassment – or in the case of Silver’s former staff member, J. Michael Boxley,  sexual assault - seems like a risky play for a party constantly beating the drum of Republicans being at war with women.

Now however, a Democrat Senate candidate is bucking her own party by calling for a thorough investigation of Silver, and also claiming that she too has been the victim of sexual harassment by what she called the “good ol’ boy” network in New York politics.

Via the  Village Voice: 

A former New York Assembly staffer who now is running for the state Senate says the multiple sexual harassment allegations made against shamed Assemblyman Vito Lopez — and the subsequent coverup by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver — is just a “smokescreen and coverup for something much bigger.”

Democratic Senate hopeful Monica Arias Miranda claims she was sexually harassed routinely by male co-workers when she worked as a budget analyst for the Assembly Ways and Means Committee. She says she never filed complaints about the abuse because she feared retaliation from the “good ‘ol boy” culture in the Legislature.

Miranda, who faces two other Democrats in Thursday’s primary, has called for an investigation into Silver — a risky move for a Democrat, but one that is sure to set her apart from her opponents in her suburban Albany district.

“Why are elected officials calling for Mr. Lopez’s resignation yet are not willing to say the same about the speaker, who is the one responsible for using $100,000 of tax-dollar money to hush the sexual harassment allegations,” she said at a press conference yesterday.

Silver approved a payoff of more than $103,000 in taxpayer money to silence two of Lopez’s alleged victims.

It should also be noted that had Silver done a proper investigation into the initial victim’s claims, the subsequent instances of harassment that led to Lopez’ eventual punishment may never have taken place.

Silver is an accomplice to the second pair of victims being groped and sexually harassed.

We continue to call on the resignation of Mr. Silver, but even more so, we are calling on other prominent Democrats in New York state to ask for the same.

It’s time New York Democrats took a stand that actually helped women, instead of using them as pawns for their own political aspirations.

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New York Democrats Have Joined Arms in the War on Women

September 5, 2012 at 12:13 pm (Cover Up, Ed Cox, Kirsten Gillibrand, New York, Payoffs, Sexual Harassment, Sheldon Silver, Vito Lopez, War on Women)

Today, New York GOP Chairman Ed Cox released the following statement regarding the silence by New York Democrats in Charlotte:

“It is deeply disappointing that New York Democrats in Charlotte, like U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, have remained utterly silent about the attempted sexual assault cover-ups perpetrated by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Indeed, Mr. Silver is serving as the head of the New York delegation at the Democratic National Convention, without a peep from Ms. Gillibrand or her fellow delegates. That is an embarrassment to our state.

“While Ms. Gillibrand has continued to promulgate the term ‘War on Women,’ it appears the only ‘War on Women’ in Albany is against female Assembly staff members.

“Mr. Silver has established a clear pattern of covering up sexual crimes committed against female staff members by his political colleagues. He must not be allowed to remain Speaker. I urge New York Democrats –especially those like Ms. Gillibrand, who purport to stand up for women, to join me in calling on Mr. Silver to step aside as Speaker.

“Continued silence from the Democratic delegation in Charlotte is unacceptable.”

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Sexual Harassment Pander: Sheldon Silver Once Again Proves Ethics in New York Under His Watch Is Non-Existent

August 28, 2012 at 1:19 pm (Assembly, J. Michael Boxley, New York, Settlement, Sexual Harassment, Sheldon Silver, Taxpayer Money, Vito Lopez)

Sheldon Silver must resign.

Over the weekend, Silver was lauded for his swift and unprecedented response to the Vito Lopez sexual harassment scandal.  Lopez was unanimously rebuked by the Standing Committee on Ethics and Guidance, stripping him of his Housing Committee chairmanship, cutting off funding and resources from the Assembly, and banning him from hiring employees under the age of 21.  Silver outlined the punishment in a startlingly graphic letter from the Assembly to Lopez.  
Now however, what was once praised as a swift response, has been a proven case of pandering to members of government with a penchant for sexual misconduct.  In a stunning revelation, the New York Times reports that Silver attempted to keep previous Lopez harassment issues swept under the rug, authorizing a secret payment to two other victims for an eye-popping $103,080.  

“… 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.

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Banner Weekend For NY Democrats – One Punished For Sexual Harassment, Another Announces They’ll Be Arrested

August 27, 2012 at 7:00 am (Andrew Cuomo, Brooklyn, Democrats, Ethics, Governor Cuomo, Grants, Harassment, New York, New York City, Non-Profit, Queens, Sexual Harassment, Sheldon Silver, Shirley Huntley, Taxpayer Money, Vito Lopez)

It’s been a very active weekend for Democrats, with a pair serving in the boroughs of New York City being part of some very rare activity over the weekend.

First off, Brooklyn Democrat Assemblyman Vito Lopez has been handed some very severe punishment stemming from what is being called “blatant instances of sexual harassment”.

The Standing Committee on Ethics and Guidance not only stripped him of his Housing Committee chairmanship, and cut off resources and funding from the Assembly, but his guilty actions prompted a ban prohibiting Lopez from hiring interns or any other employees under the age of 21.

That is the equivalent of a sexual predator being kept from that which tempts them.

The letter from Assembly Majority Speaker Sheldon Silver pulls no punches, providing such details as how Lopez harassed one woman forcibly kissing her and putting his “hand as far up between her legs as you could go”.  He also forced two women to continuously write to him about how much they loved their jobs and cared about him.

Here is a copy of the letter:
Vito Lopez Letter 8-24-12

Lopez has left a long trail of slime in Brooklyn, with rumors that other charges may be coming down the pike.  He has been the subject of multiple federal investigations as well as blatant instances of extreme cronyism.

Several Democrats have pushed for Lopez to resign as a result of these egregious charges, with the most damning perhaps being from the governor of New York himself.  Andrew Cuomo on Sunday joined a growing list of elected officials calling on Lopez to step down.

Next up on the list of corruptocrats from southern New York, is Sen. Shirley Huntley from Queens, who took the rare step of announcing her own impending arrest on Monday.

Huntley held an “emergency press conference” over the weekend to announce that she expects to be arrested on Monday.

She did not indicate what charges may be involved, though four employees of hers had been arrested last year based on an investigation of a non-profit organization in which Huntley had steered tax-payer funds.  The four who were indicted included a top aide and a niece of Huntley’s.

Leave it to city Democrats to get involved in a year’s worth of scandal in one weekend.

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