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Ethics panel announces investigation

Karen Dewitt

A unanimous vote by the state ethics board appears to launch a full investigation into the Assembly’s sexual harassment scandal.  

In the second meeting in less than a week, the Joint Public Ethics Commission bent its own rules and announced that a vote had been taken to launch what it called a “substantial” investigation. 

The disclosure followed an hour long public debate, where commissioners of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver complained that the commission’s secrecy and leaks to the media were impugning the integrity of the ethics panel.  

Commissioner Marvin Jacob says without more transparency “this whole experiment is going to fall apart”

Commissioners are prevented by law from discussing investigations, but the ethics panel meetings come after Governor Cuomo, among others, called for a probe into a growing sexual harassment scandal in the state Assembly. 

Assemblyman Vito Lopez has been censured by the chamber, and Speaker Sheldon Silver has been criticized for approving a secret settlement to two of Lopez’s alleged victims.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. WBFO listeners are accustomed to hearing DeWitt’s insightful coverage throughout the day, including expanded reports on Morning Edition.