As a member of the Assembly and Chairman of the Assembly Government Operations committee, I call on Assemblyman Vito Lopez to resign his seat in the New York State Assembly over recent reports of sexual harassment of his female employees and to fully reimburse taxpayers all the money that was used inappropriately. Sexual harassment of staff members is not to be tolerated and Assemblyman Lopez should not be allowed to hold public office.
I am fully supportive of Governor Cuomo and other state officials in calling on Assemblyman Vito Lopez to resign and for a full investigation by the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) of Lopez’s sexual harassment incidents. Investigations by Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan and Albany County District Attorney David Soares should also bring to light all the facts and ensure Mr. Lopez is properly prosecuted.
Last year the New York State Legislature passed the Public Integrity Reform Act of 2011. I was a co-prime sponsor of this bill and one of my first actions as chair of the committee on Government Operations was to report this bill out of committee to the floor of the Assembly. I am confident these investigations by JCOPE and the two district attorneys will give us the full facts of this disturbing case.
As a father of two daughters, grandfather, and as an employer of four women out of a staff of five, I am very troubled at the thought of an elected official harassing women, especially those whom he had a position of power over.
Finally, I call on Vito Lopez to reimburse the State of New York the $103,000 in public money that was paid to two former staffers. Mr. Lopez must take personal responsibility for his wrongdoing and that means using his own money to pay for any and all settlements even as JCOPE, which I helped create, is doing its job and proving how necessary this independent body is.