Supremely gross ex-Assemblyman and Brooklyn Democratic boss Vito Lopez has spent a whopping $177,724 in just the last 6 months, all of it from his campaign fund, defending himself against charges that he's a grope-y creep who sexually harassed a number of former female staffers.
Ex-Brooklyn Assemblyman Vito Lopez's sexual harassment scandal is netting big paydays for his lawyers — and the former lawmaker is using campaign cash to pay for them.
Lopez's latest financial statement showed $177,724 spent on lawyers over the past six months, leaving his campaign account with a cash balance of $591,891. The legal bills were the only expenses Lopez listed.
That's a lot of money and none of it is Vito's. But this is New York where politicians regularly use their campaign donations to defend themselves in court.
When we last heard from Vito, he was trying his best to avoid being deposed in the suit filed by his former staffers and doing everything he could make sure you didn't know he was doing it.
Among the numerous super gross accusations against Lopez, some really stand out for their sheer awfulness.
Women were forced to massage his body, pressured to spend the night with him in hotel rooms, instructed to wear skimpy skirts and high heels and subjected to "forced intimate contact" as Lopez repeatedly rubbed their thighs, even as they tried to swat him away, they told investigators.
One woman was made to feel the tumors on his neck, shoulder and armpit as Lopez, who has cancer, told her he was dying and "needed" her. Another contracted pinkeye after being made to put drops into his affected eye.
Yes, Vito Lopez, a guy who looks like a Sopranos extra (and who ran Brooklyn like a real-life mafioso) made one young woman touch his armpit tumors and gave another young woman pinkeye.
In other news, a judge ruled yesterday that two of those former female staffers can proceed with a lawsuit against the state. The plaintiffs allege, quite reasonably, that the state — and specifically Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver — knew Lopez was a hands-y creep and failed to protect them from him. Silver had already signed off on two settlements with former Lopez staffers so he had to know that he was a creepy scumbag.
A Manhattan judge ruled Thursday that two women who claim they were sexually harassed by disgraced ex-Assemblyman Vito Lopez can pursue claims against the state.
State Supreme Court Judge Paul Wooten rejected arguments by the state that former Lopez staffers Victoria Burhans and Chloe Rivera were not state employees and that the state – specifically Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver – was unaware of Lopez's actions and could not be held responsible for his harassment.
Wooten noted that the Assembly had used confidential settlements to resolve two earlier cases against Lopez and took no actions to protect future employees.
"Accordingly, plaintiffs have adequately pled that the State of New York should have known about Lopez's propensity for improper conduct yet failed to take any preventative actions," Wooten ruled.
Originally posted at The Albany Project.
(image via flickr)