Tom DiNapoli, New York State Comptroller, has issued contract and payment approvals for legal bills and settlement funds incurred by the New York State Senate and Assembly. The amount that taxpayers are on the hook for? A cool $1 million.
Via the Times Union:
That number includes $545,000 to settle the sexual harassment lawsuit against former Assemblyman Vito Lopez, who is on the hook to pay an additional $35,000 out of his own pocket. Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was another defendant in that suit due to his alleged failure to properly curtail Lopez’s alleged depredations.
The Assembly previously incurred more than $1 million in publicly funded legal bills defending itself in the same matter.
In October of last year, MenRec reported on hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars being spent to defend Lopez and Silver, despite the trial still being several months away.
A report released last year by state ethics regulators provided insight into the actions that led to former Democrat Assemblyman Vito Lopez’ downfall. The report indicated that Lopez told female staffers to wear suggestive clothing, stay with him in hotel rooms, forcibly groped one woman, had his hands wander up her legs, and even infected one woman with pink eye when he made her give him eye drops.
One of the victim’s mothers actually called 911 at one point and filed a sexual harassment/child abuse report with police after she saw Lopez leering at a 14-year-old intern, encouraging other women in his office to dress as “sexy” as the teen had.
The comptroller report for payment approvals gets even better.
An additional $13,000 was allocated to pay for the appeal of Assemblyman Micah Kellner (D) who had his offices shut down and was forced to stop hiring interns because he violated sexual harassment policies on multiple occasions.
Another $435,000 is being doled out to a law firm for ““legal services and special counsel related to the Moreland Commission,” the ethics panel set up by none other than Governor Andrew Cuomo himself. The administration is currently being investigated by a federal prosecutor for their actions in shutting down the Commission.
Investigations involving information pulled from the panel’s own work is what ultimately led to Speaker Sheldon Silver’s indictment on corruption charges.
In other words, lawmakers in New York are committing the crime and taxpayers are footing the bill to defend them.
Cross-posted at the Mental Recession