These days it seems impossible to open a newspaper without reading about a new scandal in the New York State Legislature. While political scandals are nothing new, they seem to be part of the regular course of business in New York, and bad behavior seems thoroughly ingrained in Albany's political culture.
The latest scandal involves powerful Assemblyman Vito Lopez (D-Brooklyn) abusing his female staff and then using taxpayer money to cover it up. When the incident came to light, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver approved over $100,000 in taxpayer money to keep Lopez's accusers quiet. Sadly, this is not the first time this has happened in recent memory. Or the second or third. In the past few years there have been several cases involving high profile Assembly Democrats involved in sexual misconduct, including one of the Speaker's own top aides.
The fact is, sexual harassment and abuse are quietly tolerated in the Assembly Majority, despite ethics rules to the contrary, and the Speaker is all too willing to expend state monies to protect one of their own. This must end now.
We need real, meaningful accountability in our state government and legitimate oversight by our watchdogs. That means we must reform the state's recently enacted ethics law to reduce the ability of ethics panel members to veto an investigation. But more importantly, it means Speaker Silver must go. After decades of tolerating abuse and misconduct, it is clear that the Speaker lacks the credibility to uphold the high standards of conduct that New York State deserves from its elected officials. His exit is the only way that we can stop the abuse of women in the legislature and put an end to Albany's culture of corruption.
Lou Imbroto is running for the New York State Assembly in the 13th District. For more information visit www.Imbroto.com