Cuomo Calls for Vito Lopez to Resign in Wake of Censure for Sexually Harassing Female Staffers
By Sally Goldenberg and Chuck Bennett (NY Daily News)
August 26, 2012
Assemblyman Vito Lopez hasn’t got many allies left.
In the wake of a damning censure by the Assembly for sexually harassing his staffers, Gov. Cuomo today joined the chorus of voices demanding Lopez, also the boss of the Brooklyn Democratic Party, to resign.
“Sexual harassment at the workplace cannot be tolerated in any shape or form,” said Cuomo spokesman Josh Vlasto. “These are serious allegations and if true, the governor believes he should resign.”
The strong words came as even Lopez’s traditional stronghold of support — the Thomas Jefferson Democratic Club — sought his ouster.
Club leaders are going to ask him not to run for reelection as party chairman next month.
“It’s better for the party, better for him,” one Democratic source said.
Lopez, 71, did not return messages. His attorney has denied the accusations.
Last week, the Assembly Ethics Committee determined he groped a female staff members and made inappropriate sexually charged remarks to others.
Speaker Sheldon Silver stripped him of post as chair of the housing committee, banned from other leadership positions, cut his staff and forbade him to hire anyone under 21.
Already, Sen. Charles Schumer, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and Council Speaker Christine Quinn have called on Lopez to resign.
And, more former employees are telling stories about his reprehensible behavior.
“I witnessed him saying messed up [things] to his female staffers, who were all little hotties,” one source said. “A lot of compliments, and they always sounded creepy. ... A lot of questions about their boyfriends or trying to convince young staffers to hook up with each other.”
Lopez has also been under scrutiny for years over the non-profit that he founded, the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council, which has received millions in government funding over the years and is run by his girlfriend Angela Battaglia.
But, his protege, Brooklyn Councilman Stephen Levin, backed his former boss.
“The three years that I was his chief of staff there were no incidents; there were no complaints,” he told The Post.