Assemblyman stepping down
by Andrew Pavia
Aug 29, 2012 | 948 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Assemblyman Vito Lopez will be steeping down as Kings County Democratic Party chairman as a result of sexual harassment allegations made by members of his staff. The 71-year-old assemblyman announced on Tuesday that he will not seek re-election to the post.

In a statement released by Lopez, he defends himself and claims that he is innocent.

“I have never sexually harassed any staff and I hope and intend to prove in the coming months the political nature of these accusations,” read the statement.

Although he claims the groping accusations are untrue, Lopez admits that the allegations themselves are causing him to not seek re-election.

“The onslaught of character attacks has put enormous emotional pressure on my family and close fiends I cannot sit by and allow that to continue,” he said.

The Assembly censured Lopez as a result of an internal investigation and relieved him of his position as Housing Committee chairperson.

The New York Times reports that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver authorized a secret payment of $103,080 to settle an earlier sexual harassment claims against Lopez in June. That case is unrelated to the ones brought to the public's attention last week.

One elected official who called on Lopez when the allegations surfaced and told him to “do the right thing” was Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. In a statement released by the his office, Markowitz said, “I am relieved that he did the right thing today by announcing that he will not seek re-election as county chair on the Kings County Democratic Committee.

Markowitz also stated that the new chairperson will have a daunting task in front of them.

“The new chair will face the task of reforming and reinvigorating the party in Brooklyn and making the Kings County Democratic Committee the pride of the Democratic Party across the nation,” he said.

With an eye to the future Lopez made a hazy prediction of where his political career will be headed.

“I plan to continue to serve the residents of the 53rd Assembly District and the borough of Brooklyn.”

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