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Cuomo threatens broader sex harass investigation

Sheldon Silver: Revise New York Drug Laws
Dave Lucas/WAMC
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver at the Eleanor Young drug rehabilitation center in Albany, NY. [02.25.09]

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

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.