Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb declined this morning in a radio interview to criticize Speaker Sheldon Silver’s role in the ongoing sexual harassment scandal surrounding Brooklyn Democrat Vito Lopez.

Kolb, a Republican, did say in the interview with Fred Dicker on Talk-1300 that the leaks to the press were “unacceptable” and had to stop.

But while the chief of the state Republican Party and other GOP officials call for Silver to step down over his role in negotiating more than $130,000 in settlement money to the alleged victims, Kolb demurred in the interview.

“It’s too early pass judgment,” Kolb said, saying he wants to see the facts first. “I am not going to jump on a political witch hunt.”

Kolb claimed that the scandal isn’t resonating with the public in upstate, saying that it’s a focus of the downstate and Albany press.

The Joint Commission on Public Ethics is investigating the sexual harassment allegations and, more broadly, the payments made to the legislative staffers.

Silver, who says he regrets keeping the settlement money a secret from the public, said he welcomes the inquiry.

Kolb said that JCOPE needs to be allowed to do its job and that the selective release of information to the press needs to stop.

“This is a test for the commission … that’s why we have to allow them to do their job, that’s what they’re designed to do,” Kolb said.

Lawmakers speaking privately and on background say they back Silver, though many fear this could hurt their chances of receiving a legislative pay raise later in the year — a prospect that was already deeply opposed by voters.

Kolb says he doesn’t think Silver is about to be overthrown (though the Republicans would probably hear that news last).

“I have not heard significant — someone significant rumblings at this point. Again, it’s the Assembly Democrat members who elect their leader so it’s up to them,” he said.

As for a pay raise, Kolb plans to vote against it.

“First of all, I would not vote for it, and second of all, I don’t think it will happen,” he said.