May 23, 2013
Four Assembly Republican Women: Elect a New Speaker
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: David Laska
In Case You Missed It, four Assembly Republican women, Jane Corwin, Nicole Malliotakis, Annie Rabbit and Claudia Tenney, coauthored a piece in the Albany Times Union yesterday.
The piece dissects Sheldon Silver’s years of covering up sex abuse in his own caucus. Sexual abuse should not be a partisan issue. When will the 34 female Democrats in the New York State Legislature join our call for Sheldon Silver to resign the Speakership?
Silver’s as Tainted as Lopez
The Albany Times Union
May 22, 2013
By Assemblymembers Jane Corwin, Nicole Malliotakis, Annie Rabbitt and Claudia Tenney
The resignation of our former colleague, Assemblyman Vito Lopez, may provide some measure of relief for those who believe the propensity of sexual harassment of staff members is an isolated incident. Those who are familiar with the corrupt culture in Albany know otherwise.
The uncomfortable and appalling detail that was outlined in two separate investigations regarding the actions of Assemblyman Lopez is only the most recent in a series of inappropriate and, in some cases, criminal activity that has been overlooked, quieted, or muffled by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
The speaker has presided over as hostile a workplace as one can imagine, dating back to 1995, when he arranged to pay a staffer $85,000 in state taxpayer money to settle a civil suit against the Assembly and Assemblyman Mark Alan Siegel after sexual harassment accusations.
Then, in 2001, Silver’s chief counsel, Michael Boxley, was accused of rape against yet another young female staffer. An internal report of the incident was brought to the speaker, but no action was taken. Boxley was arrested years later, in a separate incident on rape charges, and ultimately pleaded guilty to sexual misconduct.
Following Boxley’s arrest, the speaker released a statement saying, “I am deeply dedicated to ensuring that every woman in this state feels safe, and have devoted much of my career to protecting the rights of victims of sexual abuse.”
Yet when he had an opportunity to commission a full and independent investigation of the matter after the first complaint, Silver acted with the same lackluster effort that was displayed when negotiating the settlement following the harassment charges brought against Lopez.
Silver publicly stated that he chose not to disclose the earlier allegations of sexual harassment at the request of the victims. However, the JCOPE investigation revealed that the victims did not request confidentiality; rather, the speaker chose not to disclose the settlement in order to protect his senior member and prevent media scrutiny. Even more disturbing, the women were forced to sign confidentiality agreements that would impose a $10,000 penalty for speaking.
While the privilege of electing the speaker is afforded to the majority party, there is no vehicle provided to the minority party in Assembly rules to force a vote of removal. As female members of the Assembly, we hope that our colleagues in the Democratic Majority will call for a vote and elect a new speaker; someone untarnished by the corrupt culture of Albany and who will not tolerate abuses toward women.
We applaud Assemblyman Mickey Kearns for being the first to take this step and encourage other Democrats to follow suit. This issue is too important to be made political, and we urge our majority colleagues, both men and women, to not see red and blue, or party ideology – but to simply see right and wrong.
The writers are Republican members of the state Assembly.