Cuomo Calls for Censured Assemblyman Vito Lopez to Resign
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Sunday became the most prominent official to call for the resignation of a powerful Brooklyn assemblyman who was censured on Friday after allegations of sexual harassment.
The assemblyman, Vito J. Lopez, who is also the head of the Brooklyn Democratic Party, was accused of verbally harassing, groping and kissing two of his staff members earlier this summer, charges that the Assembly’s ethics committee found credible.
“Sexual harassment at the workplace cannot be tolerated in any shape or form,” Mr. Cuomo’s spokesman, Josh Vlasto, said in a statement. “These are serious allegations and if true, the governor believes he should resign.”
A lawyer for Mr. Lopez, who was first elected to the Assembly in 1984 and has long been a Democratic kingmaker in Brooklyn, denied the charges on Friday and criticized the Assembly’s investigation as procedurally flawed.
But Mr. Lopez’s denial has not discouraged a growing number of Democratic officeholders from urging the assemblyman to resign. On Saturday, Senator Charles E. Schumer called for Mr. Lopez to step down, and a day earlier, a number of top Democrats from New York City urged him to vacate his office, including Christine C. Quinn, the City Council speaker; Bill de Blasio, the public advocate; Representative Jerrold Nadler; and Scott M. Stringer, the Manhattan borough president.
The Daily News also called on Saturday for Mr. Lopez to step down — “Any official guilty of such conduct cannot continue in a position of public trust,” the newspaper wrote in an editorial — and an online petition urging his resignation had attracted more than 200 supporters by Sunday afternoon.
Mr. Cuomo’s statement came after The New York Times reported on Saturday night that the Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver, a Manhattan Democrat, had quietly settled at least one other sexual harassment accusation against Mr. Lopez this year. The previous complaint, which was not reported to the Assembly’s ethics committee, was settled at least in part with public funds, a confidentiality agreement and a mandatory sexual harassment workshop.