Three days after a New York Daily News bombshell story reported that State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver allegedly had an "inappropriate" relationship with his top aide, few Republicans are venting any outrage at the Democrat who has wielded the gavel in the Assembly for nearly two decades.
Although a Quinnipiac University poll showed state voters want Silver to step down by a margin of 2-to-1, neither Assembly Republican Leader Brian Kolb nor Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos have issued such a call.
Moreover, while State Republican Chairman Ed Cox demanded that Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo sign up a special prosecutor to investigate Silver, several legislative observers have gone so far as to point out that this might violate separation of powers between the branches of state government.
Cuomo heads the executive branch, while the legislature is the judge of its own members.
Silver, 69, has vehemently denied the report, calling it "nonsense." But it comes hard on the heels of severe criticism of the speaker for failing to take tough action against fellow Democrat Vito Lopez who has been accused of groping two members of his staff.
On Friday the Lopez staffers, Victoria Burhans and Chloe Rivera, named Silver in a lawsuit alleging negligence. "Lopez would not have been able to abuse plaintiffs without the assistance of the Speaker of the Assembly, Sheldon Silver," the lawsuit reads.
"Months before Lopez hired plaintiffs, Silver and his senior staff learned that at least two other women on Lopez’s staff had credibly complained that Lopez had sexually harassed them and other employees."
The legislative session will end in a few weeks, and despite the heat, betting is strong that Silver will survive.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax
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