Welcoming reporters in after huddling behind closed doors for more than two hours, the state’s joint ethics board ended its meeting with nothing to report to the public.
“There is no information being reported out based on the work we’ve done in our executive session,” said Janet DiFiore, the Westchester County district attorney and chair of the Joint Commission on Public Ethics. “Is there a motion to adjourn this meeting?”
The Tuesday meeting was hastily called last week as news continued to break surrounding the Vito Lopez scandal. The longtime Brooklyn Assemblyman has been accused by four separate women of sexual harassment in the workplace, and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver authorized a secret settlement that paid two of the accusers $103,080 in taxpayer money.
The 14-member panel technically met in Albany, though all but two commissioners weren’t in the city and were linked in through video conferencing equipment. (Check out the photo of the setup in Albany.)
The two commissioners who were there—Patrick Bulgaro and George Weissman—politely declined comment as they navigated their way through a throng of reporters.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has called for a JCOPE investigation into the Lopez scandal, while Silver has said he would “welcome” one. Lopez has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, but the Assembly Ethics Committee sanctioned him after investigating two of the claims.
Whether a JCOPE investigation proceeds, however, is complicated. Silver has three appointees on the commission, and at least two of them would have to vote in favor of a probe for one to proceed.
It could get even dicier if any of Silver’s appointees decide to recuse themselves because of conflict of interest. The law would still require at least two of them to vote for a probe, regardless of how many decide to cast a vote at all.