Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Assemblyman Vito Lopez fires back at Speaker Sheldon Silver who said Lopez should resign amid a sex harassment scandal

Vito Lopez says he is not going to leave his Assembly seat. Sen. Chuck Schumer chimes in that Lopez should be 'O-U-T! N-O-W!'

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 Assemblyman Vito Lopez is not wilting in the face of a sex harassment scandal, even after Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said he should resign.

Bryan Pace for the New York Daily News

Assemblyman Vito Lopez is not wilting in the face of a sex harassment scandal, even after Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said he should resign.

 Vito Lopez declared war Tuesday on Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
A day after Silver called on the powerful Brooklyn party boss to resign amid a sexual harassment scandal, a defiant Lopez blasted out an all-caps statement trashing his detractors for “destroying my credibility and election options” and vowing not to be railroaded from office.
“I WILL NOT CAPITULATE TO THOSE SELF-SERVING TACTICS AND DEMANDS,” Lopez said in his statement without mentioning Silver by name.
On Monday, Silver, who admitted authorizing a secret $135,000 settlement for two former Lopez female staffers who claimed they were sexually harassed, vowed to do all he could to pressure Lopez to resign.
The speaker said he called Lopez on Friday to asked him to relinquish the Assembly seat he’s held for nearly 30 years — but Lopez says he has no intention of going away quietly.
The hot-tempered party boss is known for playing hardball, and he made it clear the game is on with Silver, his former ally.
RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: ASSEMBLY SPEAKER SHELDON SILVER ASKED VITO LOPEZ TO RESIGN
EDITORIAL: VITO LOPEZ WILL KEEP HIS SEAT AS LONG AS HE LIKES
Operatives with ties to Lopez reminded reporters Tuesday that Lopez still has a strong following in certain segments of his 53rd Assembly District in Brooklyn — while threatening to go after Silver’s reputation.
Lopez, who stands accused by his Assembly colleagues of sexual harassment and is the subject of a criminal probe, said he’s the victim of a political smear campaign that will not drive him from office.
“In the last 10 days there have been a series of allegations that are politically motivated, as well as unethical or illegal leaks about confidential agreements and statements with the principal motive of destroying my credibility and election options,” Lopez said in the fiery statement.
The two women paid off by the Assembly settlement are not the only complaints of sexual harassment against Lopez.
The Assembly Ethics Committee upheld two other complaints, in which former staffers said Lopez groped them and kissed them. Silver accepted the findings and, on Aug. 24, stripped Lopez of his Assembly seniority and leadership positions.
The sanctions blew the lid off the covert June settlement with Rita Pasarell, 30, and Leah Herbert, 29, who had both been senior members of Lopez’s staff.
Lopez, who faces only token opposition in the November election, said he would not give in to the calls of “outside individuals and interest groups” that have urged him to leave office.
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