Community members call for independent investigation of Sen. Jeff Klein
13 January, 2018, 16:21 | Author: Cecil Buchanan
Three months before Klein became embattled by the misconduct charge, a woman who had been hired by the state Assembly to craft tighter ethics rules after the arrest of former Speaker Sheldon Silver on fraud and bribery charges, told the Albany Times Union that she was disappointed that the new Assembly leadership showed little interest in her input.
In a story first reported Wednesday by The Huffington Post, Erica Vladimer said Klein forcibly kissed her outside an Albany bar in the spring of 2015.
The friend, whom the Huffington Post did not name because she still works in the Senate, also spoke to a reporter for the website about Vladimer being upset and confiding in her the night of the alleged incident.
Albany's latest sexual misconduct scandal is threatening a delicate balance of power in the state Senate, and a few political rivals are already trying to capitalize on the allegation. "I agree with Senator Klein and with Senator Krueger that this disturbing situation should be investigated, and I believe it should be done immediately and independently".
"What did I do to make these men think it was OK to treat me that way?"
Elaine Phillips, said one possible panel that could investigate is the Legislative Ethics Commission, a joint Senate/Assembly office. After briefly looking over her shoulder, Vladimer said Klein grabbed her head as she turned back around.
NY state politics has seen a of. Savino was on the press call defending Klein on Wednesday, and the other six members of the IDC, including Carlucci and Valesky, issued a statement Wednesday evening saying they have complete confidence in Klein and stand by him. (Has he not been paying attention?) His statement pledged a commitment to "fostering a safe workplace" but included the assertion: "I know Sen". Vladimer was referring to Cuomo's promise to address sexual harassment in the upcoming legislative session.
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Klein's lawyer, Michael Zweig, admits Klein and Vladimer were at the bar together that night, and even that they went out to smoke a cigarette. Diane Savino, sat inside.
Klein plays a key role with other Senate and Assembly leaders and Cuomo in state budget negotiations, which begin Tuesday when the governor releases his spending plan for the 2017-18 fiscal year that starts April 1.
Both Klein and Savino said they recalled an "unusual" interaction with Vladimer in which she asked Klein to her family's home for Passover Seder, according to the memo, which was the product of 10 interviews with present and former staff. Savino and IDC staffers were inside celebrating passage of the state budget.
The leader of the Independent Democrats in the Senate denies that he forcibly kissed a former staffer, and says he intends to remain as leader of the break away democratic faction.
Ms. Vladimer said she left her job a month after the incident. "There needs to be an immediate independent investigation outside the Senate".
In a Twitter post Thursday morning, Klein's declared primary opponent Alessandra Biaggi said a "strong response" was necessary amid the defense by Klein's IDC colleagues. "And I'm sure you know he and I have more than a professional relationship, so I know him better than anybody".
Klein's group has been resisting pressure from the likes of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer, all Democrats, to end their breakaway caucus and return to the mainstream Democratic conference.
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