Embattled Assemblyman Vito Lopez will give up his powerful post as Brooklyn Democratic party boss amid allegations that he groped and attempted to kiss two employees.
The influential Bushwick politician — who last week lost his title as chair of the Assembly’s Committee on Housing after staffers accused him of sexual harassment — revealed in a bombshell, all-capital-letter statement that he will not seek re-election in September as chairman of borough Dems because of the “emotional pressures on my family and close friends” caused by “character attacks.”
“My political history has been to fight through challenges and political conflicts but, for the sake of loved ones and the Democratic party, it is important that I take this action,” Lopez said in a statement.
Lopez has not resigned from his Assembly seat and is running uncontested for his 15th term in November.
Last week, the Assembly’s Committee on Ethics and Guidance censured Lopez, stripped him of his Housing post, and reduced his office budget after two employees claimed the North Brooklyn politician made sexually charged statements towards them, groped one woman’s upper thigh, played with a staffer’s hair, and tried to kiss an employee between early June and mid-July.
Party insiders will vote on Lopez’s replacement in the coming weeks, and it’s unclear who will emerge at the top — though Canarsie Democratic district leader Frank Seddio’s name is making the rounds in political circles.
Seddio did not return repeated phone calls.
Longtime Lopez opponent and Williamsburg district leader Lincoln Restler said he is happy to see his adversary leave the party post, and hopes actions against the Assemblyman will go even further.
“Vito Lopez is a sexual predator who should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law with both criminal and civil charges against him,” said Restler, who is one of those who will vote on Lopez’s replacement. “His corrupt reign has, fortunately, come to an end.”