NY Assembly Speaker Sheldon (“Shelly”) Silver has taken a lot of heat for his role in “investigating” the sexual harassment charges against his Assembly colleague Vito Lopez. This is now the second time in about a decade that Silver has faced criticism for his handling of a sex scandal.
About ten years ago, Silver’s former chief counsel, Michael Boxley, pleaded guilty to criminal charges arising from his alleged rape of a legislative staffer. Boxely’s victim in that case was actually the second female staffer to report that she had been raped by Silver’s top lawyer. The first woman alleged that when she reported Boxley to Silver, Silver just sat there and ate pretzels and then referred the matter to the Assembly’s notoriously lenient ethics panel, which was led by one of Boxley’s close colleagues and associates.
According to reports, Silver has no intention of resigning over his handling of the Lopez affair. And why should he? For some reason, his constituents in lower Manhattan simply don’t care enough about his repeated and blatant actions to shield the Assembly from sexual harassment and rape allegations to vote him out of office.
Nor is there any pressure from his fellow New York Democrats to push him out. As some of the profiles of Silver below point out, after 20 years Silver is still very popular in his party. And no wonder. Not only does he hand out pork “member items” to his loyal followers, he has repeatedly demonstrated that he will reward that loyalty by doing his absolute best to protect Democrats in the Assembly from any ethics or criminal charges, no matter how disgusting, that anyone brings against them.
- Lopez Substantial Basis Investigation Report, JCOPE (Feb. 12, 2012)
- Shelly The Survivor, The Jewish Week (May 22, 2013) (“But as he emerges from the Vito Lopez scandal as powerful as ever — facing only muted calls for him to step down after an ethics commission faulted his handling of sexual harassment charges against the Brooklyn legislator and party leader — observers say it’s gratitude rather than fear that keeps him in power.”)
Former legislative staffer says Sheldon Silver is ‘repeating’ mistakes with Vito Lopez case, NY Daily News (May 22, 2013) (Interview with former legislative staffer Elizabeth Crothers, who accused Silver’s top lawyer of raping her)
How Shelly tarnished himself, NY Daily News (May 21, 2013)
New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver says ‘I’m sorry’ for his role in the Vito Lopez sex scandal coverup, NY Daily News (May 21, 2013) (“Now in his 20th year as speaker, Silver (D-Manhattan) said he has given no thought to resigning his leadership post despite calls by Republicans and newspaper editorial boards that he step down.”)
Bad Week Is Merely Bump for Assembly’s Master of Power, NY Times (May 20, 2013)
Report Finds Lawmaker Was Shielded by Leaders, NY Times (May 15, 2013)
- SI DA blasts Silver for protecting Vito Lopez during harassment scandal, NY Post (May 15, 2013) (“My investigation revealed that during the mediation and negotiation of a settlement, the chief concern of those in the Assembly was mitigating the Assembly’s damages,” Donovan wrote. “That goal outweighed any interest in investigating or disciplining Assembly Member Lopez or in preventing similar occurrences in the future.”)
- Silver Wields Power by Keeping Albany Guessing, NY Times (June 20, 2007)(“In the last fiscal year he was the sole sponsor of $7.2 million in member items and directed about 70 percent of that to organizations and services in his district, many affiliated with his important Jewish and Chinese constituents. Among the most favored beneficiaries in the last fiscal year was the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty and its affiliated organizations, which received nearly $1 million. The group’s chief executive, William E. Rapfogel, is the husband of Mr. Silver’s chief of staff, Judith Rapfogel. The council is widely acknowledged to provide useful services to all ethnic and racial groups throughout the city, and has long received generous public financing.”)
- Sex-rap Shel aide returns as lobbyist, NY Post (May 2, 2013)
Assemblyman Sheldon Silver Pestered by Yet Another Potential Felony, Village Voice (Sept. 17, 2012)
- SUNSHINE FOR SHELLY, NY Post (July 21, 2008) (“Cavalier. Outrageous. Disgraceful. Those are the exact words that pit- bull Supreme Court Justice Emily Jane Goodman used last week to describe the conduct of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver in handling multiple sexual-assault allegations against his former chief counsel, Michael Boxley.)
Silver Wins a Ruling Related To Aide’s Sexual Misconduct, NY Sun (July 17, 2008)(“Ms. Crothers chose not to file criminal charges and asked the Assembly to investigate the matter internally. While his office conducted its probe, Mr. Silver defended Mr. Boxley, calling him “a man of highest integrity and of the highest character.””)
Ex-staffer says top Shelly aide raped her and Silver did nothing about it, NY Daily News (June 25, 2008)
- Albany Faces Its Sex Problem, and Nobody’s Snickering, NY Times (May 16, 2004)
- Aide to Silver Is Arrested In Rape Case, NY Times (June 12, 2003)