Cuomo threatens broader sex harass investigation

Sep 7, 2012

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is threatening to create a powerful investigative body to look into sexual harassment claims in the Legislature if the state ethics board fails to probe a secret Assembly settlement. WAMC's Dave Lucas reports.

The Joint Commission on Public Ethics has refused to say if it will investigate a $103,000 settlement approved by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver in June to resolve claims against Democratic Assemblyman Vito Lopez.

The commission met for more than two hours behind closed doors Tuesday, but wouldn't comment on whether it would investigate Lopez, Silver's deal, or neither.

Just before Cuomo's statement Friday, a judge empowered a special prosecutor to investigate claims against Lopez and the settlement.

The powerful Democratic speaker says he wants a full investigation. He has said he regrets making the secret deal. Although Silver says the agreement was legal and ethical and at the request of the accusers, he says it conflicts with the need for transparent government.

Lopez has denied sexually harassing anyone. Under commission rules, legislative appointees can in effect veto a probe.

(c)2012 Associated Press