The state Legislative Ethics Commission hit former Assemblyman Vito Lopez with the largest penalty in its history, fining the longtime lawmaker $330,000 for a series of sexual harassment transgressions outlined in a pair of reports last month.
Lopez, a Brooklyn Democrat, faced harassment allegations from at least seven female employees, who said he repeatedly made inappropriate comments about their dress, forced them into hand massages and made unwanted sexual advances on more than one occasion. Lopez has denied all wrongdoing, but he resigned as the Assembly made moves to expel him.
The commission—a bi-partisan panel of senators—tallied up 33 violations of the state Public Officers Law and levied the maximum fine of $10,000 for each one.
“After reviewing the (Joint Commission on Public Ethics) report and other relevant materials forwarded to the LEC in consideration of the penalties to be assessed, the LEC concludes that Lopez engaged in a course of conduct that violated Public Officers Law §§ 74(3)(d)(f) and (h),” the commission wrote in its decision. “The Commission finds at least thirty three distinct violations of Public Officers Law § 74(3)(d) against at least the four complainants. In addition, Lopez’ knowing and intentional conduct constituted violations of Public Officers Law §§ 74(3)(f), and (h).”
Here’s the full decision, released a few minutes ago: