From the Daily News:
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver testified recently before state ethics commission investigators about his role in the Vito Lopez sexual harassment scandal, the Daily News has learned.
Silver was subpoenaed to discuss how he signed off on a $103,000 taxpayer-funded settlement with two former Lopez staffers who accused the Brooklyn Assemblyman of sexual harassment, a source close to the Speaker said.
A Silver spokesman refused to say whether the powerful Manhattan Democrat testified, saying only: “We’re cooperating fully.”
Silver is the highest ranking official to testify in the ongoing investigation, and one of at least seven people on the Assembly payroll to do so. Others include Silver’s chief counsel Jim Yates and Assembly lawyer William Collins, both of whom spearheaded the secret settlement talks.
Officials in the offices of state Controller Thomas DiNapoli and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman reviewed versions of the settlement agreement, but the two principals are not believed to have testified before the commission, though some of their staffers have, sources said.
Silver has insisted he approved the confidential payout to protect the victims’ privacy, and to save taxpayers from a potential $1.2 million lawsuit. Word of the settlement leaked after Silver announced in late August that he was stripping Lopez of his seniority and leadership positions after the Assembly Ethics Committee found to be credible allegations from two different Lopez staffers who said the lawmaker had sexually harassed them as well.
Silver now admits he should have notified the Assembly Ethics Committee of the two complaints that led to the hush-hush settlement. The Speaker also has said he expects the state ethics commission will ultimately knock his handling of the matter but not find that he committed criminal or ethical violations.