Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Sunday became the latest Democratic official to call for the resignation of a powerful Brooklyn assemblyman who was censured on Friday after allegations of sexual harassment.
The assemblyman, Vito J. Lopez, who leads the Brooklyn Democratic Party, was accused of verbally harassing, groping and kissing two staff members this summer, charges that the Assembly’s ethics committee found credible.
“Sexual harassment at the workplace cannot be tolerated in any shape or form,” Mr. Cuomo’s spokesman, Josh Vlasto, said in a statement. “These are serious allegations and if true, the governor believes he should resign.”
Mr. Lopez, who was first elected to the Assembly in 1984, has long been a Democratic kingmaker in Brooklyn. His lawyer, Gerald B. Lefcourt, denied the charges on Friday and strongly criticized the Assembly’s investigation as “lawless.” Mr. Lefcourt declined to comment Sunday on Mr. Cuomo’s statement.
Mr. Lopez’s denial has not discouraged Democratic officeholders from urging the assemblyman to resign. On Saturday, Senator Charles E. Schumer called for Mr. Lopez to step down, and a day earlier, a number of top Democrats from New York City urged him to vacate his office, including Christine C. Quinn, the City Council speaker; Bill de Blasio, the public advocate; Representative Jerrold Nadler; and Scott M. Stringer, the Manhattan borough president.
A Daily News editorial on Saturday also called for Mr. Lopez to step down, and an online petition by the New Kings Democrats, a political organization, urging him to resign his party chairmanship had attracted more than 250 signers by Sunday night.
Mr. Cuomo’s statement came after The New York Times reported on Saturday that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver had quietly settled at least one other sexual harassment accusation against Mr. Lopez this year. The previous complaint was not reported to the Assembly’s ethics committee.
On Friday, Mr. Silver, a Manhattan Democrat, removed Mr. Lopez from his post as chairman of the Assembly’s Housing Committee, stripped him of his seniority and barred him from employing interns. A spokesman for Mr. Silver declined to comment on Mr. Cuomo’s call for Mr. Lopez to step down.
Source: NY Times