citizens union position statement
Friday, August 24, 2012 Contact: Aries Dela Cruz, (347) 683-3020

Executive Director, Citizens Union

Citizens Union is alarmed to read the detailed and sordid findings of the bipartisan Standing Committee of Ethics and Guidance that Assemblymember Vito Lopez of Brooklyn verbally, physically, and repeatedly harassed two Assembly employees, but is pleased by the swift and strong action taken today by the Assembly to censure him and remove him from his leadership post and benefits of seniority.

That the allegations of sexual harassment against Vito Lopez has been found credible by his Assembly colleagues with whom he has worked closely for decades speaks strongly to their veracity. The repeated nature of his alleged actions is detestable and if true may be far more serious than sexual harassment.

It is a shame that the voters of Assembly District 53 do not have the opportunity to decide whether to remove him from office since he faces no opponent in the September primary election. That they don't have that choice doesn't meant that New York taxpayers should still pay the salary of Vito Lopez who has brought harm to the lives of the two women complainants and possible unemployment to his other staffers because of Lopez's unacceptable workplace actions.

We hope that the allegations result in the appropriate law enforcement agencies taking whatever next steps are necessary, including the Joint Commission on Public Ethics opening up an investigation.

Assemblymember Vito Lopez has brought disrespect to his office and violated the public trust of his constituents. Given the atrociousness of the allegations deemed credible by his Assembly colleagues, he must resign.

Citizens Union is a nonpartisan good government group dedicated to making democracy work for all New Yorkers. Citizens Union serves as a civic watchdog, combating corruption and fighting for political reform. We work to ensure fair and open elections, honest and efficient government, and a civically engaged public.

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Peter J. W. Sherwin, Chair • Dick Dadey, Executive Director