Ex-Assemblymember Vito Lopez resignation effective today at 9 a.m.

May 20, 2013 Heather Chin
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Threatened with expulsion from the legislative body he has been a part of since 1985, scandal-plagued Assemblymember Vito Lopez has resigned.

The embattled veteran politician’s resignation from the New York State Assembly was made effective as of 9 a.m. this Monday morning, after state and city politicians rejected his attempt last Friday to postpone his resignation until June 20.

In response to the vocal opposition, Lopez submitted a terse, one-sentence letter to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver on May 18, setting 9 a.m. on Monday, May 20 as the time his resignation would become effective.

However, rather than withdraw completely from public office, Lopez has maintained that he will seek election to the City Council seat being vacated by Councilmember Diana Reyna, who represents the 34th Council District.

The news of his intention to continue to seek public office has triggered a near-universal outcry by state and city lawmakers who maintain that he is not fit for office following ongoing accusations of physical and verbal sexual harassment of female staffers.

“There should be a zero tolerance policy when it comes to sexual harassment and we must now send a clear message that this behavior is not tolerated,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo on Friday, May 17. “Vito Lopez should not spend another day in office.”

Lopez, 71, has been the subject of renewed scrutiny following the release of a scathing state ethics report from the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) that accused Lopez of violating three provisions of the Public Officers Law, while also accusing Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and his staff of protecting Lopez and failing to conduct any investigation into repeated accusations of sexual harassment of female staffers — instead helping to facilitate payouts to some of the women.

The ethics report came on the heels of a decision by a special prosecutor that Lopez would not face criminal charges for the sexual harassment accusations.

If Lopez does run for City Council, then his opponent will be Williamsburg native and Reyna’s former chief of staff Antonio Reynoso.

In response to this prospect, Reynoso stated that “By virtue of his repeated sexual misconduct and criminal activity, Vito Lopez clearly does not deserve to hold public office. . . The bottom line is this: a publicly condemned criminal does not deserve the public trust, nor the privilege of representing Brooklyn and Queens in the City Council or the State Assembly. He must drop his campaign immediately, and begin looking for ways to right the wrongs he has inflicted on the people of this city.”

 


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