4:01 pm Aug. 24, 2012
Minutes after Rep. Jerry Nadler said the only "honorable" thing for Assemblyman Vito Lopez to do was resign his post as the Brooklyn Democratic County Leader, the Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, a 2013 mayoral contender, sent out a statement calling on Lopez to "resign from office."
"Any elected official who engages in such blatant sexual harassment and abuse of staff members has no business serving the public," Stringer said. "Mr. Lopez has violated any trust that voters placed in him, and he should step down immediately."
The statements from Stringer and Nadler, whose district includes a large swath of Brooklyn, represent the harshest rebuke to Lopez since it was announced that he was to lose his seniority and most of his staff after a legislative probe of sexual harassment allegations against him.
So far, other major city elected officials have been silent on Lopez's trouble.
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, who is from Park Slope and is also running for mayor, is traveling out of town
the country with family and not immediately available for comment.
Campaign spokespeople for City Council Speaker Christine Quinn*, City Comptroller John Liu and former city comptroller Bill Thompson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The only other citywide candidate to criticize Lopez is local publisher Tom Allon, who said Lopez should step down from his party position.
An official at the New York State Democratic Party declined to comment.
Since 2006, Lopez has reigned as the Democratic County Leader in Brooklyn, taking over after his predecessor and Assembly colleague, Clarence Norman, was convicted of pocketing campaign contributions . (Norman, the night before his sentencing, hosted a well-attended party in Crown Heights and told supporters, "How many people can be convicted on two felony counts and have the kind of support that I do in this room?")
Lopez is reportedly denying the sexual harassment allegations that led to his censure and signaling he will not relinquish his powerful perch.
*UPDATE: Quinn is now calling on Lopez to resign, too. Here's a statement she emailed to reporters:
“There must be zero tolerance of sexual harassment in all workplaces, always. Chairman Daniel O'Donnell and the Assembly Committee on Ethics and Guidance have conducted a serious, thorough investigation and Speaker Sheldon Silver's actions are warranted and appropriate. Because of the seriousness of these findings, Vito Lopez should immediately resign from office and step down as chair of the Brooklyn Democratic Party.”
UPDATE: De Blasio has also called on Lopez to resigned, releasing the following statement: "Today’s findings have serious implications and cannot be swept under the rug. Assemblyman Lopez has violated the trust and safety of his staff, and broken faith with the people he represents. It is time for him to resign his seat in the Assembly and step down as Brooklyn Democratic Party Chair."