In a sign that the latest scandal to tear through Albany is reaching a whole new levle, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman this afternoon blasted the decision by the Democratic-led Assembly to approve a $103,000 payment to a woman who had accused Assemblyman Vito Lopez of sexual harassment.

In the statement, Schneiderman says the settlement “was wholly inappropriate and contrary to the public interest.”

“If true, the actions of Assemblyman Lopez are reprehensible, and the decision of the Assembly to keep secret the provision of ‑ and even the existence of ‑ a settlement agreement was wholly inappropriate and contrary to the public interest. Our office policy requires that agreements of this kind do not include confidentiality provisions. On May 30, 2012, an OAG attorney provided the Assembly’s counsel with a copy of a model pre-litigation settlement agreement which included no provision mandating secrecy or confidentiality.

“Our office has already been in communication with Ellen Biben, the Executive Director of the Joint Commission on Public Ethics. We have already provided the Commission and the press with copies of all communications with the Assembly in our possession relating to this matter, and stand ready to work with JCOPE to ensure a full and fair investigation.”