Assemblyman Vito Lopez is not happy with today’s state ethics commission’s report detailing the sexual harassment allegations that former staff members have lodged against him. Accordingly, Mr. Lopez blasted both the report’s process and its findings in a lengthy, 3-page statement released this afternoon.
“Salacious and sensational claims in the JCOPE report are fallacious,” Mr. Lopez said, referring to the Joint Commission on Public Ethics and writing in third-person perspective. “These claims, including that he made sexual references to a 14 year old intern and ‘opined that statutory rape laws should not exist’, are simply not true.”
Congressman Jerry Nadler and others are joining District Leader Lincoln Restler in demanding Assemblyman Vito Lopez end his tenure as the Chair of the Kings County Democratic Party following the explosive sexual harassment allegations that included forcing himself on at least one staff member as she struggled to push him off.
“I applaud the work of both the bi-partisan Assembly Ethics Committee and Speaker Silver for the swift and judicious action in removing Assemblyman Vito Lopez from the Chairmanship of the Assembly Housing Committee and in taking other punitive steps as a result of the findings that Assemblyman Lopez was guilty of multiple acts of sexual harassment and abuse,” Mr. Nadler said in a statement this afternoon. “In light of the reprehensible conduct revealed by the Ethics Committee, I call upon Assembly Lopez to do the only honorable thing by immediately resigning his positions as a Member of the Assembly and as the County Chair of the Brooklyn Democratic Party.”
District Leader Lincoln Restler, one of the most aggressive critics of Assemblyman Vito Lopez and his control of the Brooklyn Democratic Party, has jumped at the news of the sexual harassment allegations leveled against Mr. Lopez and has called on him to step down from the county organization.
“Given the severity of these allegations, which the New York Assembly has called ‘credible,’ Vito Lopez should immediately resign as Brooklyn Democratic Party Chairman,” Mr. Restler said in a statement. “I hope all responsible elected officials in Brooklyn will join me in calling for this action. It is clear we need a full and comprehensive investigation into whether this was a regular pattern of behavior in Vito Lopez’s office.“
Speaker Shelly Silver’s office just announced news certain to make significant waves among Brooklyn politicos.
Among the many allegations is that Assemblyman Vito Lopez, the powerful head of the Kings County Democratic Party, required some of his staff to write “about how much they loved their jobs and cared about [him],” and that he “criticized their notes for being insufficiently effusive.”
Mr. Silver also wrote a letter to Mr. Lopez outlining the allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct. You can read those, as well as Mr. Silver’s press release announcing the news below:
Yesterday, Congressman Michael Grimm declared his love for his pooch Sebastian and encouraged his entire staff to bring their dogs to his Washington D.C. and district offices for Take Your Dog To Work Day, a fairly innocent and non-threatening endeavor. Nevertheless, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, always aggressively eager to highlight the serious fundraising allegations leveled against Mr. Grimm, has done it again and seized upon Mr. Grimm’s puppy love to push their message.
“Congressman Grimm’s latest excuse not to talk about his legal and ethical problems?” the DCCC proclaimed in a statement this morning, pumping up the news of the continuing FBI investigation. “He is too busy playing with his puppy, trying to lighten the mood of staffers worried about impending interviews with the FBI.”
From conversations in and around Congressman Michael Grimm’s orbit, The Politicker has learned the FBI has been speaking to at least one individual about fundraising allegations against his 2010 campaign in the last couple weeks. One such person, who requested anonymity to speak candidly, confirmed that the FBI reached out to him to inquire on the matter.
This continues a New York Times story from earlier this year when the publication reported Mr. Grimm used a combination of straw donors and extortion to illegally raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for his campaign. However, very little until now occurred in subsequent developments outside of an Associated Press report in early March that the FBI was “considering whether to open an investigation” into his fundraising.
“We are of course familiar with the FBI inquiry and we welcome the news that it is heading towards completion,” Mr. Grimm, a former FBI agent himself, said in in a statement provided by his campaign’s lawyer. “We contacted the Justice Department and other appropriate agencies immediately after the false allegations against me first appeared in an irresponsible New York Times story in January. I look forward to a speedy resolution and am confident that I will be fully vindicated. I’ve done nothing wrong and any fair and thorough inquiry will come to the same conclusion.”
Yesterday evening, Roll Call broke the news that former Congressman Anthony Weiner said he reported Congressman Michael Grimm to the FBI in 2010 for potentially extorting money from Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto’s congregation, something the New York Times‘ sources have alleged as well. “I can confirm the Rabbi did bring allegations to me and I can confirm that I turned them over to the FBI immediately,” Mr. Weiner told the publication.
Former Staten Island Borough President Guy Molinari, a GOP power broker and political mentor to Mr. Grimm, decided to not take this latest set of charges sitting down and sent out a press release this afternoon attacking Mr. Weiner’s claims in rather harsh terms.
“All of these baseless and fanciful allegations are supported of course by anonymous sources and a known liar and pervert,” he argued in the statement. Mr. Weiner, of course, infamously resigned after a sexting scandal.