LaVenia Campaign Calls for Sheldon Silver's Resignation

Peter LaVenia, the Green Party's candidate for NY State Senate in District 44, called for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's immediate resignation after news of a $103,080 secret payment by the Assembly to settle a sexual harassment claim against Vito Lopez was made public.

“The revelation that Speaker Silver authorized $103,080 taxpayer dollars to be used as hush money in a sexual harassment case alone is enough to call for his resignation. His protection of Vito Lopez, at the heart of multiple sexual harassment scandals, from that time until last week's censure, means it is apparent Speaker Silver has fostered a culture of denial and toleration for harassment and abuse of women, and this at the heart of New York State government. This is not the first time Sheldon Silver has reacted slowly to sexual misconduct by Assembly members and staff, but it needs to be the last. It's time for him to go,” said LaVenia.

The State Assembly in 2006 paid more than $500,000 to settle a lawsuit over an alleged rape committed by Michael Boxley, the counsel to Silver, who had prior complaints for sexual harassment. The agreement also included a pledge to take steps to avoid the culture of sexual harassment which has long dominated the state legislature.

“I call on my opponents in this race, State Sen. Neil Breslin and Albany County Legislator Shawn Morse to join me in demanding Speaker Silver's resignation. His actions transcend party boundaries. We need to send a clear message to everyone in a position of power that sexual harassment and abuse will not be tolerated. Changing the culture of Albany will begin when we stop allowing the powerful to enable abusers like Vito Lopez. Sheldon Silver's resignation is the first step in that long process of change,” stated LaVenia.

LaVenia also said like former State Senator Joe Bruno, Silver has presided over a culture of corruption at the State Legislature, with more than a dozen legislators and state officials recently convicted or resigned over political corruption. Silver has long blocked restrictions and disclosures on financial benefits lawyer-legislators like himself receive from companies doing business with the state retaining the services of his law firm. Patricia Lynch, a former top aide to Silver often cited in the media for her “special close” relationship with Silver, has parlayed that connection into one of the richest lobbying firms in Albany .

“Our tax dollars should not be used as an ATM for lawmakers, their relatives and their campaign contributors or to cover up their misdeeds. Too many lawmakers think sexual favors and misconduct is part of their job description. Cleaning up Albany means showing leaders like Shelly Silver the door,” added LaVenia.