12:25 pm Aug. 27, 2012
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand joined the growing chorus calling on Vito Lopez to resign if the sexual harassment allegations that led to his censure on Friday are proven to be true.
"There can be zero tolerance for sexual harassment in the workplace," Gillibrand said in a statement. "Clearly, there is no room in public service for anyone who engages in this type of unacceptable behavior."
That puts Gillibrand on the same page as her senior colleague in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, and Governor Andrew Cuomo, who have both called for Lopez to resign, if the allegations against him are true.
It stops slightly short of some other elected officials, including Rep. Jerry Nadler and most of the 2013 mayoral candidates, who have called for Lopez's immediate resignation from his Assembly seat and from his post as chairman of the Brooklyn Democratic organization. Those calls cited a letter from Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver on Friday that endorsed the findings of a state ethics commission, which unanimously found the harassment allegations against Lopez to be "credible." (The letter also deemed Lopez's response to be "not credible.")
Silver formally censured Lopez, stripping him of his chairmanship of the Assembly's Housing Committee and his nearly three decades of seniority, and also barred him from employing any interns or staffers under the age of 21. The New York Times reported on Saturday that the Assembly had settled another harassment complaint against Lopez earlier in the year.
Gillibrand and Lopez have had a strained relationship since she was elevated to the Senate in 2009. He pushed for David Paterson to appoint Caroline Kennedy to the Senate seat, and, after Gillibrand's appointment, Lopez continued to publicly entertain a variety of potential primary challengers in the 2010 cycle, including a big lunch meeting where he praised former Tennessee congressman Harold Ford, Jr.
He eventually endorsed Gillibrand, saying she had "gotten better."