Probably not, despite the New York Daily News apparent assumption that sleazy Vito Gropez is a reliable source when it comes to Assembly Speaker Silver’s extra-curricular affairs.
Both the New York Daily News and various government watchdog groups have taken JCOPE to task for failing to disclose a so-called “damning” email that contains a third-hand assertion that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver had an affair with his Chief of Staff, Judy Rapfogel.
Specifically, the undisclosed email was from Mariann Wang (Gloria Allred’s partner) to lawyers representing the Assembly. In it, Wang states that Vito Lopez told her client that he wanted a sexual relationship similar to the one that Silver had with Rapfogel.
First off, it’s pretty clear now that Vito Lopez would pretty much say and do anything in his clumsy and disgusting attempts to seduce the young women working in his office and then cover it up when people started asking questions. The fact that Lopez told one of his victims that Silver and Rapfogel had an affair doesn’t make it true. Lopez doesn’t have a lot of credibility and nobody has explained why we should believe anything that he says now. To me, it sounds like Lopez was attempting to pressure his staffer into a relationship with the age-old argument that “everyone else is doing it.”
Second, JCOPE shouldn’t be blamed for omitting the email when there isn’t a single shred of evidence that independently supports Lopez’s assertion. Of course, the email is relevant to JCOPE’s investigation. It’s from one of the complainant’s lawyers and contains an allegation concerning Lopez’s behavior toward the complainant. But JCOPE probably isn’t obligated to disclose every piece of evidence that it reviewed over the course of its investigation, regardless of the collateral damage such material might unnecessarily cause.
I suppose JCOPE can be criticized on many fronts for how the Vito Lopez debacle has been handled, but it probably got this one right. You may not like Silver very much, but no one deserves to be dragged through the mud simply because of Vito Lopez used their name when he attempted to seduce his staffers.