The National Organization for Women and Common Cause have filed a complaint with the New York State Ethics Enforcement Agency demanding an investigation into Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's approval of a secret payment of taxpayer money. T
The payment of $103,000 was to end sexual harassment allegations made by female employees of Assemblyman Vito Lopez, the Brooklyn Democratic Party leader. The women included his former chief of staff, Leah Hebert, the New York Post reported.
Two women and their lawyers were paid a total of $135,000 including $32,000 from Lopez himself.
Lopez is accused of putting his hands between the legs of a female staffer, trying to kiss another and urging them to not wear bras. He denies the allegations but will not run again for Democratic boss of Brooklyn. But he wants to retain his Assembly seat.
Many Democrats, including U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, say he should quit.
Silver secretly approved that $103,000 payoff to Lopez's accusers in June. Now Silver admits it was a mistake, and says he welcomes any ethics probe. In a statement he said "...any settlement agreement was both legal and ethical and made out of deference to the wishes of the complainants."
Gloria Allred, the lawyer for the women, said the speaker is falsely implying the women settled for money.
Analysts say an ethics probe is probable. But we won't know the result for months.
Depending on secret communications, such as e-mails, it could be that Silver acted properly though in secret, or evidence might reveal a cover-up.