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Ethics agency to ethics panel: release Lopez report or we will

By Tom Precious

ALBANY – A state ethics agency has fired a new round at a legislative ethics panel, saying it will release a report on a sexual harassment case involving a Brooklyn Assembly Democrat in two weeks if the legislative committee doesn’t go public with it by then.

The Joint Commission on Public Ethics, an agency home to numerous staffers loyal to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, noted that a 90-day timetable is winding down for making public its investigative findings about the taxpayer-funded settlement of sexual harassment cases against Assemblyman Vito Lopez.

The lawmaker, who lost his housing committee chairmanship and is no longer the powerful leader of the Brooklyn Democratic Party, has denied wrongdoing in the case brought by two former staff members. But the JCOPE report is reportedly filled with details about how he mistreated the women, as well as how a $103,000 cash settlement with the women was secretly approved by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. The Assembly leader later said no such secret settlements will again be approved and that all such cases will go to the legislative ethics panel.

JCOPE sent its findings – essentially saying it had uncovered wrongdoing in the case -- to a joint Senate and Assembly ethics committee on February 13, starting a 90-day clock for the report to be made public by the Legislature.

“Pursuant to statutory mandate, if the Legislative Ethics Commission should fail to do so, the Joint Commission shall release the report in its entirety after the ongoing 90-day period provided for under the law,’’ the commission said in a statement today after the agency’s board emerged from a closed-door, executive session.

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Albany | Andrew Cuomo
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About Politics Now

Robert J. McCarthy

Robert J. McCarthy

A native of Schenectady, Robert J. McCarthy came to The Buffalo News in 1982 following a six-year stint at the Olean Times Herald. He is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and has been covering local, state and national politics since 1992.

rmccarthy@buffnews.com


Tom Precious

Tom Precious

Tom Precious joined The Buffalo News in 1997 as bureau chief at the state Capitol, where he covers everything from statewide politics and state government fiscal affairs to health care, environmental and municipal government matters. Prior to The News, he worked for news outlets in Albany and Washington, DC.

tprecious@buffnews.com


Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri is an Amherst native and has covered politics and government in upstate New York since 2003. She joined The Buffalo News in 2012 and covers City Hall.

@jillterreri | jterreri@buffnews.com


Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski, The Buffalo News Washington bureau chief, has reported from the nation's capital since 1989 after joining The News as a business reporter in 1984. A graduate of Syracuse University, Zremski is a former Nieman fellow in journalism at Harvard University. In 2007, he served as president of the National Press Club.

@JerryZremski | jzremski@buffnews.com

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