How about that Clint Eastwood? The 82-year-old actor making jokes with an invisible Barack Obama at the Republican National Convention is probably the only thing that could temporarily take our minds off of the massive Vito Lopez sexual harassment scandal roiling Albany right now, a case that has involved some of the major players in state politics. Lopez’s planned resignation as party chair will leave an empty seat Frank Seddio could fill, and if Lopez resigns as Assemblyman, the number of empty New York chairs Mr. Eastwood could talk to is multiplying, rapidly.
Lincoln Restler - New York’s most famous unpaid district leader is still in a political dogfight next month, but he now has an even stronger platform to run on – calling for embattled Assemblyman Vito Lopez to resign immediately. The message is resonating in Greenpoint, but the largest bloc of voters, about 6,000 Orthodox Jews in South Williamsburg, remain loyal to Lopez and Restler’s rival, Councilman Steve Levin. But Hasidic Jews love winners, and if they think Lopez’s sexual harassment allegations have weakened him politically, Restler could win soundly.
Andrew Cuomo – If the governor wants anything from Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver in the next two years, he’ll probably be able to get it. Fruit baskets on Tuesdays? Check. Legislation passed in the Assembly that Shelly probably wouldn’t be fond of if he hadn’t gotten himself in hot water with a secret sexual harassment settlement? Check. The governor’s former employees make up a sizable chunk of the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, which is reportedly already looking into allegations that both Silver and Lopez acted inappropriately.
Naomi Rivera -Nothing knocks a minor political scandal out of the news like a major one. The daily New York Post article savoring the latest developments in the affair of the Assembly’s femme fatale of Facebook and her taxpayer-sponsored boyfriends dried up the second Vito/Shelly-gate broke. Though ‘Daniela Rivera’s’ liaisons are spicy enough that they will eventually wind up back in the headlines, this week at least the Bronx assemblywoman enjoyed an unexpected reprieve from the tabloids’ daggers.
Dean Skelos – While Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is fending off Vito news, the Senate Majority leader is in Tampa, enjoying the sunshine, chilling with Republican party bigwigs, seeing Clint Eastwood in person, getting tan(ner) and drumming up support for his Senate Majority. When he returns home he’ll have several more examples of Democratic dysfunction to trot out before election season.
Frank Seddio – Years of glad-handing paid off for Frank Seddio this week, when the popular South Brooklyn district leader emerged as the most likely successor to county chairman Vito Lopez. An attempt to challenge him from Central Brooklyn fizzled on Wednesday night when the anti-county faction failed to rally around Assemblyman Karim Camara.
Sheldon Silver – Well the person we really feel bad for is Michael Whyland, who’s been getting into a protracted press release war with Gloria Allred, which we’re sure is most press aides’ idea of purgatory, if not hell itself. Beyond that, the Speaker, renowned for his political prowess, has clearly made a huge mistake in agreeing to a sexual harassment settlement without referring it to an ethics body in June, especially given past criticisms of his behavior in similar cases. It is a mistake that he rightly acknowledged, if perhaps a bit late. The speaker was supposed to be focused on raising the state’s minimum wage and instead he is in damage control quicksand, with some people calling for an investigation into his handling of the case.
Shirley Huntley - If starting your weekend standing out on your front lawn telling the press in a hastily-called press conference that you’re going to be surrendering for arrest to the State Attorney General on Monday doesn’t automatically guarantee you a place on the Losers of the Week list, then what does?
Wendy Long -It’s bad enough Long is down 43(!) points according to Siena and is polling a mere 52 percent among Republicans(!), but this week House Majority Leader John Boehner declared in a speech at the GOP convention that there was “no significant Senate race underway” in New York. Add a tepid endorsement from Al D’Amato into the mix and the $200,000 the Arizona-based Super PAC National Horizon pledged to back Wendy Long with this week that looks puny compared to the more than $10 million Gillibrand has in the bank. At this point in the race, Gillibrand is looking like Chuck Schumer circa 2004 with Long playing the part of Howard Mills III.
Vito Lopez – OY. Few politicians have had a week go as badly this year as Brooklyn’s powerful political boss. He lost his housing committee chairmanship on Friday and was forced to step down from his chairmanship of the county’s Democratic party when sexual harassment claims against him became public. The charges are graphic. Several former staff members said he created a hostile workplace environment, made advances on them repeatedly, and even touched one woman’s inner thighs. Lopez’s hold on his Assembly seat remains tenuous and this story is far from over now that the state ethics commission is investigating the claims.
Steve Levin - Lopez has few friends left, and one of his most loyal, Councilman Steve Levin, could soon be dragged into the assemblyman’s burgeoning sex scandal. Good government groups called on the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics to question all of Lopez’s current and former employees about their knowledge of his behavior in the workplace. That includes Levin, who served as Lopez’s chief of staff for three years before winning office in 2009. Levin told the Post that he was not aware of any harassment that occurred while he worked for Lopez, but he’s likely to face additional scrutiny from state investigators.
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