Lopez Won’t Seek Re-election As Brooklyn Dem Chair
Assemblyman Vito Lopez confirmed rumors that have been running rampant in New York and even here in Florida all day and announced he will not be seeking re-election to his post as Brooklyn Democratic chairman.
“The onslaught of character attacks has put enormous emotional pressures on my family and close friends. I cannot sit by and allowed that to continue,” Lopez said in a statement. (It was printed entirely in capital letters, like an extended yell, which is in keeping with the assemblyman’s MO).
“My political history has been to fight through challenges and political conflicts, but for the sake of loved ones and the Democratic Party, it is important that I take this action.”
Lopez also reiterated the claim he first made last night in a statement that he has never sexually harassed any members of his staff. Today he said he intends to prove the “political nature” of the accusations against him.
Calls have been mounting for Lopez to give up both his party post and his Assembly seat in the wake of last week’s announcement by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver that he had censured the veteran lawmaker after a bipartisan ethics committee found he had sexually harassed two female staffers.
Since then, it has become clear that there was at least one and perhaps more additional complaints lodged against Lopez, which were quietly settled through a $103,080 payment worth of taxpayer funds.
According to the New York Times, an additional payment was made by Lopez himself, though it was unclear if this money came from his campaign committee or his personal funds, and the cash might have gone to two women, not just one.
The settlement was negotiated by the state, Lopez’s attorney and Gloria Allred, a prominent Los Angeles attorney who is often representing high profile victims of sex crimes. (She’s also involved in the Syracuse University/Bernie Fine scandal).
Lopez patted himself on the back in today’s statement for working “tirelessly to bring important programs and services to the poor and working poor,” adding:
“This could not have occurred without the support and time commitment of dedicated staff, many of whom have benefitted from the positive experience in the positions they currently hold and in the subsequent careers that they have pursued.”
Lopez said he intends to continue serving in his Assembly seat (the 53rd AD), and thanks his “many friends” for their support.
There have been a number of names floated of possible Lopez replacements as Brooklyn Democratic chair. Sources close to Assemblyman Frank Seddio says he maintains he has sufficient votes to take the position, although he would have to abandon his planned NYC Council run (to replace term-limited Councilman Lew Fidler) to do so.
Lopez’s full statement appears below.
NOTE: Lopez didn’t resign, as the original headline stated, but merely said he won’t run for another term.
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