Sheldon Silver and the Vito Lopez test
There are no criminal charges after an investigation of Assemblyman Vito Lopez, but plenty of lurid details of questionable behavior.
That's the takeaway from two reports released yesterday by the legislature and the Staten Island district attorney about Lopez's treatment of eight women who worked for him, and about how the Assembly speaker handled their complaints.
Silver has already apologized, while Lopez, who is running for Council and was until recently a powerful leader of the Brooklyn Democratic organization, claims he is the victim of a smear campaign. The Legislative Ethics Commission released documents they reviewed as part of their investigation. They include letters from officials, travel vouchers and text messages from former Lopez employees.
The details of this story, captured on audio recordings made by two of his accusers, are graphic and distrurbing. They come to light as the state legislature grapples with the public perception, or realization, that there is a massive and possibly even worsening corruption problem in Albany.
Lopez doesn't appear capable of contrition or even recognition, as demonstrated by his run for Council in the face, now, of broad opposition from the self-preserving New York political establishment. But Silver still has his power at stake, and his failed response to Lopez's behavior, and subsequent shaming, establishes a grim litmus test for the handling of the legislature's next episode of misbehavior.
"Money flow and our desire to keep this away from media scrutiny complicates the resolution of this matter." — Bill Collins
Former Republican senator Al D'Amato "is the biggest financial backer" of Bill Thompson, who said he is "proud" to have D'Amato's support. [David Halbfinger]
Assemblyman Vito Lopez's lawyer accused Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver of having "serial and overlapping personal relationships with his own staff." Silver's spokesman strongly denied the accusation. [Glenn Blain]
All these mayoral candidate forums are actually hurting the debate about public policy. [Errol Louis]
"This scandal shows that there is a desperate need for more protection of press freedoms." [New York Times]
Property taxes are soaring under New Jersey governor Chris Christie. [Bob Ingle]
Mayor Michael Bloomberg demands a return of the old voting machines. [Dana Rubinstein]
Headline: "Now the White House asks Schumer to bring back a media shield law." [Reid Pillifant]
Anthony Weiner did nothing dramatic with his campaign account, according to his latest filing. [Reid Pillifant]
Governor Andrew Cuomo won't always have such a low national profile. [Azi Paybarah]
Bill Thompson has a different opinion than his contributor, Al D'Amato, on Christine Quinn's personal struggles. [Azi Paybarah]
Thompson said there's no room in government for Vito Lopez, but held off endorsing Lopez's rival. [Azi Paybarah]
Rockaway residents want to keep their subsidized ferry. [Dana Rubinstein]
"Governor Andrew M. Cuomo is in Albany and New York City."
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn's campaign schedule is " EMBARGOED UNTIL DATE AND TIME OF EVENT."
10 a.m. Public Advocate Bill de Blasio joins the New York Immigration Coalition, the Black Institute, El Fuente, Unite Here Local 100 and others to discuss legislation allowing undocumented residents to receive driver's licenses, on the steps of City Hall. @BilldeBlasio @TheNIC @TheBlackInst @LaFuenteInc #License4All
10 a.m. On Brian Lehrer's show: The Guardian's Heidi Moore discuss the "snooping" stories: Bloomberg's and the Associated Press. Also: the "science of marijuana." And a look at the park dedicated to FDR. [WNYC] @BrianLehrer @MooreHN #Bloomberg #AP #LegalizeIt
10 a.m. On Fred Dicker's show: guests and topics to be announced. [Talk1300] @FUD31
10:30 a.m. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and others unveil legislation reforming military justice system regarding the prosecution of sexual assaults allegations, in Room 301 of the Russell Senate Office Building, Washington. @SenGillibrand @SenatorCollins @SenatorBoxer @Mike_Johanns @CongressmanDan @TulsiGabbard @SenatorBegich @SenBlumenthal @ChrisCoons @AlFranken @MazieHirono @SenatorBarb @KyrstenSinema
11:30 a.m. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn makes an announcement with council members, in the Red Room of City Hall. @ChriscQuinn
2 p.m. Democratic mayoral candidate Bill Thompson joins Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and greets residents, in the community room of Co-op City, 77 Dreiser Loop, Bronx. @BillThompsonNYC @RubenDiazJr #NYC2013
4:30 p.m. Democratic mayoral candidate Sal Albanese attends the Staten Island UFT forum, at P.S. 42, 380 Genesse Avenue, Staten Island. @UFT @SalAlbanese2013 #EduElection
5:45 p.m. DC37 hosts "The Great Debate," a mayoral candidate's forum, at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, 199 Chambers Street, Manhattan. @DistCouncil37 @BillThompsonNYC @SalAlbanese2013 #GreatDebate
7 p.m. On "The Road to City Hall": New York State Senate co-leader and Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein. [NY1] @RoadToCityHall @JeffKleinNY @IDC4NY
7:30 p.m. UCC Civic Western Queens hosts a mayoral candidate's forum, at the Lexington School for the Deaf, 2626 75th Street, Jackson Heights, Queens. @SalAlbanese2013 #UCCforum
8:30 p.m. The Shirley Chisholm Democratic Club is hosting a candidate's night, and say Christine Quinn, John Liu and Bill Thompson "will attend.", So will Albanese, Brooklyn D.A. Charles Hynes, Public Advocate candidate Letitia James and others, at the Salem Missionary Baptist Church, 305 East 21st Street, Brooklyn. [DitmasParkCorner] @SalAlbanese2013 @Quinn4NY @JohnLiu2013 @BillThompsonNYC @BrooklynDA @TishJames
"Mr. Thompson’s strategy appears geared toward inoculating himself against charges that he is an anti-Bloomberg, at least in education." [Al Baker]
Thompson said he would "create an incentive program to reward teachers" who take on additional challenges. [Andrew Grossman and Lisa Fleisher]
Anthony Weiner told a throng of reporters he's having no trouble attracting interest for his mayoral campaign. [Vera Chinese and Celeste Katz]
Weiner's scaled-down campaign staff may suit him, since he's a bit of a micromanger. [Michael Barbaro and Michael Grynbaum]
Weiner's entrance into the race is sign that Quinn failed to create an insurmountable lead, apparently. [Mike Lupica]
John Catsimatidis has an "outsider, establishment" candidacy. [Anna Sale]
Look for the Catsimatidis billboard. [Jill Colvin]
Bloomberg warns about the voting machines. [Ben Fractenberg]
City Hall / City Council
The indictment of the officer who shot and killed Ramarley Graham was thrown out. [Stephen Nessen]
Critics question the qualification process for gifted and talented programs. [Lisa Fleisher and Sophia Hollander]
More than 200 lawyers and staff at Legal Services NYC walked off the job to protest their salaries and benefits. [Laura Kusisto]
A Bronx police precinct commander who testified in support of the NYPD's stop-and-frisk policy received a death threat. [Kirstan Conley]
Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan's report said the Assembly's "chief concern" was "mitigating the Assembly's damages" rather than stopping Lopez. [Glenn Blain]
Headline: "Mr. Sleaze & Mr. Squeeze" [Sally Goldenberg, Beth DeFalco and Carl Campanile]
"Women were forced to massage his body…" [Glenn Blain]
A list of all the questionable conduct by Lopez, Silver and others that are not crimes. [New York Post]
A list and photographs of Lopez's alleged victims. [Daily News]
Lopez "needs to vanish from public office" and "the rest of the Albany circus must explain in detail how they'll make things different the next time." [amNewYork]
Oust Silver. [Daily News]
The acting head of the I.R.S. resigned under pressure after revelations about the agency's targeting of conservative groups. [Zachary Goldfarb]
The White House released more Benghazi emails, showing the C.I.A. was also concerned with certain disclosures in the talking points that followed the attack. [Mark Landler]
"President Obama has reached a point just six months after a heady re-election where the second term he had hoped for has collided with the second term he actually has." [Peter Baker]
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder defended the Department of Justice's secret gathering of telephone records of at the Associated Press in order to track down a leak. [AP]
More on Paterson considering a race for Congress. [Beth DeFalco]
(via Mike Lupica's column)