Common Cause/NY and NOW NYC Announce Joint Complaint to JCOPE

For Immediate Release:

Contact: Susan Lerner

August 29, 2012


Common Cause/NY and NOW NYC Announce Joint Complaint to JCOPE

Complaint will focus on extent of Lopez’s sexual misconduct

In response to the onslaught of revelations around Assemblyman Vito Lopez’s sexual misconduct, and the Assembly’s handling of complaints against him, Common Cause/NY and NOW NYC will be filing a joint complaint with the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) to investigate the scope of Lopez’s misconduct. This will be the first such filing by the preeminent women’s rights organization with JCOPE. The complaint is expected to be filed on Thursday (available here).

Sonia Ossorio, President of NOW NYC said:

“Assemblyman Vito Lopez’s reported acts of sexual harassment against numerous employees make him entirely unfit to serve the public in any capacity. Just as disturbing is Speaker Silver’s cover-up of Lopez’s earlier transgressions, which demonstrate an ongoing acceptance and tolerance for sexual harassment. It is absolutely unacceptable that in the hallowed halls of government, women demanding the fair and equal treatment to which they are entitled under the law should be met with secrecy and muzzled. JCOPE must investigate the full extent to which members of the Assembly staff, and of Mr. Lopez’s former and current staff, were aware of his conduct, and the Speaker’s role in burying these egregious charges. We will not allow the New York State Assembly to disregard women’s rights.”

Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY said:

“Sexual harassment is illegal and revelations that it was handled secretly to protect a powerful member of the Legislature in 2012 in Albany are shocking. In a democracy, government must be held accountable to protect all of the state’s residents. Yet only in the last week has the Assembly acted to protect its female employees based on the information provided by the very brave women who, refusing to accept Vito Lopez’s sexual misconduct, reported it to the relevant authorities. JCOPE must investigate the extent of Lopez’s misconduct, every thwarted attempt to report it, and the failure of process which resulted in that conduct being hidden, tacitly accepted, and allowed to continue. Voters require a public airing of the facts. JCOPE is the appropriate entity to investigate, inform the public of what actually happened and hold the responsible individuals and entities accountable.”

Good Government watchdog Citizens Union is also sending a letter calling on JCOPE to investigate.