Legislative Column by Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin (R,C,I-Melrose)

The corruption and scandals that engulf the Democrats in the New York State Legislature has gone on for far too long and has cost taxpayers millions of dollars. It needs to stop. It’s time to drain the swamp, starting with those who have enabled such perverted behavior: Speaker Sheldon Silver.

In the wake of the horrifying details about the sexual abuse complaints against Democrat Assemblyman Vito Lopez, I have urged Governor Cuomo to immediately call for a Moreland Commission to independently investigate these shameful claims since the legislature is clearly unable to police itself.

If the governor truly cared about women or a “zero tolerance” policy, he would immediately call for this commission. Sadly, action on the part of Governor Cuomo is unlikely. Though he repeatedly threatens to call for a commission, he needs to do more than threaten. The governor’s various legislative and appointed bodies have shown to be both weak and inept when it comes to investigating the misdeeds of our state legislators. During the governor’s 7 year tenure as then-attorney general and now governor, we’ve seen 32 state legislators either arrested or indicted. For the governor to claim that this is a wake up call to pass his “Women’s Equality Agenda” is an entirely hypocritical position. How would his equality agenda have helped the countless victims of sexual abuse and harassment at the hands of state legislators and their staff? The governor either has no control over the corruption happening under his watch or he is not taking these scandals seriously enough. Both possibilities are alarming.

The shocking truth that Mr. Silver used over $100,000 of our tax dollars and tirelessly worked to cover up multiple complaints of sexual harassment begs the question: why does he hold the top Democrat leadership position in the Assembly? Governor Cuomo’s silence and inaction regarding Mr. Silver’s malfeasance is alarming.

I spoke out on many occasions about the need to remove Sheldon Silver from presiding over a conference that, under his watch, has taken part in multiple activities that are shameful, embarrassing and criminal. Worse than the corruption is the fact that Mr. Silver helped create the misogynistic, male-driven culture throughout his conference, which has ultimately led to multiple accounts of sexual crimes, including rape, perpetrated against women by Silver’s colleagues and staff. The reason Mr. Lopez was able to sexually abuse two of his staffers in 2012 was because Mr. Silver covered up previous allegations by secretly financially settling with those victims. Mr. Silver is the enabler for his colleagues’ perverted behavior.

Mr. Silver’s lack of action and enforcement made him the enabler of Mr. Lopez. If anyone’s wife, mother, sister or daughter was sexually abused or harassed, wouldn’t they want both the abuser and the enabler fired immediately? Governor Cuomo’s refusal to call for Mr. Silver to resign makes him the enabler of Mr. Silver.

I am outraged that my Assembly colleagues from the other party gave this man a vote of confidence, but it is time to right that wrong. I am calling for Speaker Sheldon Silver to resign his position as speaker, and if he refuses to do so, I call on the members of his Democrat conference to remove him from his position.

Many of our elected state officials view Albany as a playground, where they are above the law and their role as a state legislator is a personal quest for the most power and money they can achieve. This culture has been fostered and maintained by those in charge. It’s time to drain the swamp. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver must resign.

Assemblyman McLaughlin represents the 107th district, which consists of parts of Rensselaer, Columbia and Washington counties. For more information, please visit Assemblyman McLaughlin’s official website.


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