By Lisa Autz
In a recent poll conducted by Siena College Research Institute, 52 percent of New York state voters say state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) failed to handle the Vito Lopez case appropriately and believe he should step down as speaker.
The poll, conducted from June 9-13, found that the 52 percent say “he failed the people of New York and Lopez’s accusers by not addressing the issue appropriately and by not being completely honest.”
Silver apologized last month for using public money to settle sexual harassment allegations made by two women employees of Lopez and for not reporting the claims to the Assembly Ethics Committee. After two more women accused Lopez of harassment, Silver then reported the allegations to the committee.
Some 32 percent believe the Lopez scandal is “not a reason for him to step down as speaker” and he “might not have handled the situation ideally but he is not guilty of anything and he has apologized,” according to the newly released poll.
The survey concludes that 43 percent of New Yorkers have an unfavorable opinion of Silver while 20 percent have a favorable one.
“Speaker Silver — with his worst-ever favorability rating in a Siena College Poll and a negative 3-to-1 job performance rating — does not have the confidence of New York voters, with more than half suggesting that he step down as speaker in light of his handling of the Lopez investigation,” said Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg about the June 17 poll.
The state Joint Commission on Public Ethics released a report that eight female employees claimed to have experienced sexual harassment by Lopez. Lopez, a Brooklyn Democrat, resigned his job as an assemblyman and has been charged a $330,000 fine.
The poll shows voters are also displeased with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, with 52 percent saying they are prepared to re-elect Cuomo while 41 percent would not. This is Cuomo’s lowest rating in his 2 1/2 years as governor.
A diverse 804 registered state voters were surveyed and reported an overall negative impression of Silver.
“A majority of Republicans and independents, downstate suburbanites and upstaters, men and women and a plurality of Democrats and New York City voters believe speaker should step down,” Greenberg said.
Based on Siena’s poll, voters are increasingly displeased with the government corruption, with 77 percent believing the state government is “becoming more dysfunctional every day.”