Silver Silences Free Speech By Shutting Mic As Katz Speaks

June 21, 2013

Assembly Speaker with history of covering up sex abuse silences opposition during “women’s agenda” debate

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: David Laska

dlaska@nygop.org

518.462.2601

In case you missed it yesterday, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver sent a crony to silence free speech on the Assembly floor, just as Republicans were raising the issue of Silver’s history of covering up sexual abuse during a debate about women’s rights.

As the New York Post reported, Assemblyman Steve Katz (R – Yorktown) was in the middle of a sentence when his microphone was silenced:

During the debate, when Katz started to talk about “a legislative body that has protected and supported a speaker with a 12 year history of enabling . . .” Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore Jeffrion Aubry (D-Queens) cut him off.

Aubrey cut off Katz just as he was about to point out the Silver’s history of covering up and enabling sexual abuse.

As this morning’s Daily News editorial said:

The many Democrats who voted yes while continuing to defend Silver’s conduct are guilty of blatant hypocrisy. They are demanding standards in the private sector that they refuse to impose on themselves – out of loyalty to, or fear of, their political taskmaster.

Take a look at both the Post report and the Daily News editorial below, and share this message with as many people as possible: let Albany Democrats know that New Yorkers won’t abide an Assembly Speaker who covered up sexual abuse against women!

Assembly Muzzles Silver ‘Grope’ Foe

Beth DeFalco

The New York Post

June 21, 2013

ALBANY – A lawmaker who dared to bring up the sexual- harassment-cover-up scandal surrounding Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was silenced yesterday during a debate on a sweeping bill to give women more rights and protections.

Westchester Assemblyman Steve Katz was admonished and stopped from bringing up the topic of Silver and the secret settlement he approved for pervy ex-pol Vito Lopez, who was accused of sexually harassing as many as eight women on his staff.

“They shut my microphone off when I spoke about Shelly Silver and the scandal,” Katz (R-Yorktown) told The Post afterward.

During the debate, when Katz started to talk about “a legislative body that has protected and supported a speaker with 12 years history of enabling . . .” Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore Jeffrion Aubry (D-Queens) cut him off.

“We are constrained in our remarks to talk about the bill that is before us . . . Other issues relative to the operation of the house or other issues are not in order when addressing a bill,” Aubry said.

Katz replied, “I think this has an awful lot to do with this bill, Mr. Speaker, and I would like to complete what I have to say.”

When he was again denied, Katz, who has four daughters, sniped, “Let’s let all the questions and all the issues that we’ve all been hearing from constituents around the state stay quiet and silent while we all go about our business as if nothing is wrong here.”

Aubry said Katz had the right to free speech off the Assembly floor – where the livestream isn’t running – but on the floor, talk is limited to the scope of the bill, which directly addresses sexual harassment in the workplace.

“Nobody had their mike cut off. Let’s be real,” Silver snapped when asked about it at a news conference following the vote.

The bill, proposed by Gov. Cuomo, calls for guaranteeing pay equity, curbing human trafficking, protections to prevent discrimination against domestic-violence victims, and a “zero tolerance” sexual-harassment policy.

Before the floor debate, Silver – who wields immense power after nearly 20 years as speaker – even got to Republican Assembly leaders, who reportedly told their members not to bring up the topic of Vito or Shelly, several lawmakers said.

“We were essentially told to stick to the bill,” Katz said.

Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb called the report “completely erroneous.”

After the vote, women’s groups stood behind Silver and praised him for bringing all 10 points of the bill to the floor, including a controversial abortion provision to bring state line in line with federal law should Roe v. Wade be overturned.

Asked how they could support Silver after the way he handled the sexual harassment cases, AFL-CIO spokesman Suzy Ballantyne said, “This isn’t germane to the conversation.”

Silver’s Gag Order

The New York Daily News

June 21, 2013

Like commissars of an authoritarian state, Assembly Democrats shielded dear leader Sheldon Silver from criticism Thursday by shutting off any mention of his coverup in the Vito Lopez sexual harassment scandal.

Silver’s house took up floor debate on Gov. Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Act, a 10-part bill widely trumpeted as designed to stem the victimization of women in the workplace and guarantee their right to abortion.

Its provisions include expanding sexual harassment laws to cover all businesses, including those with fewer than four employees.

The many Democrats who voted yes while continuing to defend Silver’s conduct are guilty of blatant hypocrisy. They are demanding standards in the private sector that they refuse to impose on themselves – out of loyalty to, or fear of, their political taskmaster.

With plenty to work with, Assemblyman Steven Katz, a Westchester Republican, tried to highlight the double standard.

“I have watched this season a legislative body that has protected and supported a speaker with 12-year history of enabling . . .” Katz began – at which point Democrat Jeffrion Aubry, who was chairing the debate, cut him off.

“Mr. Katz, we are constrained in our remarks that are before us,” Aubry declared from the podium. “Other issues relative to the operation of the house . . . are not in order as long as we are addressing a bill.”

Silver has been the only one out of order. He failed to investigate complaints Lopez had repeatedly ogled, propositioned and groped young women on his staff. Silver also wasted $103,000 of taxpayer money on a settlement that swore the victims to secrecy, thus giving Lopez a pass to victimize more women.

His actions were relevant to any debate in the Assembly over sexual harassment laws and bills aimed at protecting women more generally. But Silver is a past master at muzzling criticism. He rigged the state ethics commission with friendly members who barred the panel from investigating his conduct. Now he has gagged fair comment, just the way they might in, oh, Pyongyang.

Bazzo 06/21/13

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