Facing growing calls for his resignation, Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver, surrounded by an army of loyal supporters, apologized for his handling of the Vito Lopez allegations and announced a series of reforms to ensure, he said, that such mistakes will never be made again.
“I want New Yorkers to know I care deeply about this institution and its employees, that I remain dedicated to our core commission of protecting those who are most in need of a strong and caring government,” Mr. Silver told reporters at a press conference in Albany hours after Mr. Lopez officially resigned.
sex lies and videotape
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that voters don’t blame him for the scandals sweeping Albany, joking that nobody could have expected him to ban sex.
Speaking during an appearance on WCNY’s “Capitol Pressroom” earlier today, Mr. Cuomo was asked about a new poll that shows that, despite the recent scandals–including Assemblyman Vito Lopez’s resignation following sexual harassment allegations–his numbers have ticked slightly up.
Ex-Assemblyman Vito Lopez’s resignation became effective at 9 a.m. this morning, and Assembly officials wasted little time scrubbing all traces of the disgraced legislator online and in Albany.
Mr. Lopez’s official government website has already been removed, as has his official Assembly email address. (“Delivery to the following recipient failed permanently,” a message read.) By 10:30 a.m., the nameplate outside his Legislative Office Building had also been removed–apparently forcibly, per a photo tweeted by The New York Times‘ Thomas Kaplan. His name will also be removed from his floor seat, an official said.
State Senator Malcolm Smith, who has been accused of trying to bribe his way onto the ballot to run for mayor, has seemingly lost interest in the job.
“Right now I want to continue to do what I’m doing as state senator and try to do the best I can for the constituents that I’m still representing,” the embattled Queens lawmaker said when asked about his mayoral ambitions in a recent interview with CBS6 Albany.
As the fallout from the recent slew of arrests of state legislators continues, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that he doesn’t want what he dubbed “Scandalmania” hijacking his agenda.
“What I’m trying mightily to do is not allow the Scandalmania–’cuz you know how the press is with scandals and that becomes all-consuming–I don’t want that to eclipse the session and I don’t want it to derail the session because we have a lot of good work to do out there for New Yorkers who just want their government to function,” said the governor during a radio appearance on “The Capitol Pressroom with Susan Arbetter.”
This afternoon, courts released a sentencing document for State Senator Shirley Huntley, detailing her cooperation with federal authorities in the wake of her arrest in a bribery scheme. After a slew of corruption scandals have rocked New York State politics in recent weeks, including several of Ms. Huntley’s Albany colleagues, particular attention was placed on the names of officials and staffers caught in Ms. Huntley’s wiretaps. There are nine names on the list.
If their administrations could be summed by Instagram alone, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Governor Andrew Cuomo would be a fascinating study in contrasts. And one of the two top Empire State politicians is clearly much more at home on the popular photo sharing site.
Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind has been at the center of a firestorm since Politicker revealed he wore a “black basketball player” costume consisting of an afro wig, brown face paint, an orange jersey and sunglasses to a Purim party at his home Sunday. At first, Mr. Hikind fiercely defended himself against criticism before penning a “heartfelt and sincere apology” on his website this morning. Though the incident and Mr. Hikind’s initial response generated harsh headlines around the world and provoked critical statements from other politicians, several insiders we spoke with insisted Mr. Hikind was spared from a stronger reaction because of the unique power he wields on the local political scene.
One local political insider noted this isn’t the first time Mr. Hikind has courted controversy without facing lasting repercussions. In 2011, Mr. Hikind was one of the most vocal Democrats opposed to New York’s legalization of gay marriage. He bucked his party again this year when he suggested Jewish support for President Barack Obama was a “disease.”
“Can you imagine if somebody else had said that? What does that even mean, right?” the insider said of Mr. Hikind’s comments on the presidential election. “People are not willing to stand up to him. Internally, everyone realizes he’s a dirtbag, we’re just not going to say that because that’s the game we play.”
Assemblyman Dov Hikind held a press conference in front of his home this afternoon responding to the uproar over a story that first appeared on Politicker today about his “black basketball player” Purim costume. In front of a small crowd of reporters, Mr. Hikind apologized that people were “offended” and reiterated his initial defense that the getup, which consisted of an orange jersey, brown face paint, an afro wig and sunglasses was merely a costume to celebrate the Jewish Purim holiday. However, even after Mr. Hikind addressed the firestorm, several members of the City Council sent letters to the Assemblyman arguing his apology did not go far enough.
“Anyone who was offended by the outfit that I was wearing on Purim yesterday … it was not meant to offend anyone or hurt anyone in any fashion,” Mr. Hikind began. “That is not what I am all about for the past 31 years in pub office and before that.”
Assemblyman Karim Camara, chairman of the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus, is “deeply shocked and outraged” by his fellow lawmaker Dov Hikind’s “black basketball player” Purim costume. In his statement on the costume, Mr. Camara described it as “insensitive,” compared it to the “blackface minstrel show” and demanded an apology.
“I am deeply shocked and outraged by the insensitive actions of Assemblyman Hikind, to dress as a black basketball player complete with tanned skin and an Afro wig,” Mr. Camara said. “We, as leaders have to be extremely careful that we foster understanding amongst our different cultural groups and not use the images of one as a tool for humor. In speaking with many African Americans both leaders and average citizens, the outrage is widespread.”