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A recent Siena poll demonstrates that a clear majority of New York residents think their state Assembly leader, Sheldon Silver, should resign. The findings come amidst a recent scandal that saw Silver use over $100,000 in taxpayer funds to silence victims in a sexual harassment case. That case involved powerful state Assemblyman, Vito Lopez. The coverup was masterminded by Silver. It wasn't the first time taxpayer funds had been used to close a harassment case in the Assembly.
In 2003, Silver was criticized for a slow response to a case involving his former aide, J. Michael Boxley, who was accused of rape and later pled guilty to sexual misconduct. Three years later, the Assembly agreed to pay $500,000 of taxpayer money to settle the case. Boxley was also accused of assault by another Assembly aide in 2001.
With this kind of track record, is New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's repeated support for a Democrat ally accused of enabling sexual harassment, a clear indication of a true War on Women?
And lest you assume use of the word 'enabler' is a might bit strong, I refer you to a report presented by Staten Island District Attorney, Dan Donovan, involving Silver's role in the Lopez case. In it, he writes that the "secretive manner" used by Silver's staff "encouraged" Lopez to keep up his harassing behavior.
Assembly Republicans have asked Cuomo to denounce Silver's actions and call for his resignation. Steve McLaughlin, a possible gubernatorial challenger in 2014, has repeatedly called for Silver's resignation. Thus far however, Cuomo and his Democrat colleagues have resisted such calls.
McLaughlin tells FreedomWorks, "I find it to be the absolute pinnacle of hypocrisy for Cuomo and the Democrat conference to continue to support him."
That hypocrisy can be seen in the governor's recent unveiling of a Women's Equality Act, a 10-point plan to "restore New York’s reputation as the leader on women’s rights".
One has to wonder how leadership on women's rights issues can generate from a state whose leader can not summon the political courage to denounce actions which have been found to encourage harassment of women. Actions which led one journalist to refer to the Capitol of New York as "the most sexually abusive workplace in the nation".
"Cuomo rolls out his Women's Equality Act, yet continues to back Silver who has repeatedly covered up sexual harassment, sexual abuse, and rape," McLaughlin said.
"Democrats either need to hold a vote of no confidence in Silver or forever shut up about the fictitious Republican War on Women."
But why would a governor with Presidential aspirations continually support hostility towards the victims of sexual harassment, while trying to push through a pro-women's agenda?
I interviewed State Assemblyman, Bill Nojay, who explained:
Andrew Cuomo has spent his entire career doing what we call the Albany Two-Step -- say one thing for the cameras and reporters, then do the opposite behind the curtain. He is the Master of Spin who would make his mentor Bill Clinton proud.
Cuomo is trying to position himself as a defender of women's rights, but when given a chance to prove his commitment by calling for Sheldon Silver's resignation, he ran for cover. Why? Expediency; Cuomo needs Silver to move his legislative (and Presidential campaign) agenda, so he sacrificed principle for the pursuit of power.
McLaughlin agreed, saying "Clearly Cuomo wants Silver standing, so that he can push his radical progressive agenda".
Does that make Governor Cuomo guilty of enabling a culture of anti-women corruption in New York State?
McLaughlin surmised, "Silver enabled Lopez, and Cuomo enables Silver".
With Silver unwilling to resign and Cuomo unwilling to pressure him, the last option rests with Democrats in the Majority Conference. Nojay explained that, "Under rules of the State Assembly, only his fellow Democrats in the Majority Conference, who elected him in January, can now remove him from office."
He added that unfortunately, "Only 2 out of 107 Democrats have called for him to resign".
Two Democrats. Two Democrats, willing to stand up for the victims of sexual abuse in the workplace. Two Democrats, willing to truly support women's equality. While 105 of their colleagues and a timid governor, continue to wage a true war on women ... through silence.
McLaughlin says that these are the ones "who are hostile to women's rights".
The message they are sending is clear," he said. "As long as their progressive agenda marches on, any women that get hurt along the way are expendable."