Part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's (D) recent sexual harassment proposal focuses on preventing the use of taxpayer money to fund sexual harassment settlements.
Sen. Jeff Klein was accused earlier this week by Erica Vladimer of forcibly kissing her outside an Albany bar in the early spring of 2015. Diane Savino, who has had a romantic relationship with Klein.
"I immediately called for an independent investigation". Klein says he is innocent and that the alleged incident never happened.
In a memo following a preliminary investigation by his firm, Klein's attorney claims his client, staffers and Klein's girlfriend, Senator Diane Savino, were celebrating the passage of the state budget on March 31 almost 3 years ago. At the time she was working for the Independent Democratic Conference, which is led by the 57-year-old Klein. "In my head it lasted forever, I don't think it lasted even three seconds". I went to Justin's with Senator Klein. A ninth Democrat, Simcha Felder, also caucuses with the Republicans but is not a member of the IDC. She did not back down from her allegations against Klein, saying the Senator "violating my body, and ultimately my mind and soul".
The Bronx Senator now joins the flood of political, media and entertainment-industry figures who have been accused of sexually harassing women.
She said she pulled away and told Klein, "absolutely not", but he tried to act as if he had not done anything wrong, according to the Huffington Post.
Vladimer told the Huffington Post she was shaken by the incident, which led her to leave her job with the IDC about a month later.
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"The reason for this call is to let you know that a former IDC staffer has made a serious allegation made to a Huffington Post reporter against me", Klein said in the conference. They say the staffer asked Klein if he wanted to attend her family's holiday meal, which Klein says he politely declined.
"This never occurred", Savino said. "You know the area, you know Lark Street", Savino said in the call with reporters.
Klein said he welcomes an investigation.
Klein acknowledged being in the bar with Vladimer, Savino and several IDC staffers on the night in question and even that he and Vladimer stepped outside for a cigarette at one point.
After determining the statute of limitations likely had expired, Vladimer told Krueger she was planning to speak to the press about the alleged incident, Krueger said.
Vladimer said she never filed a formal complaint against Klein because she felt ashamed and blamed herself for the assault at the time. "Although we can not comment on the specific facts of the allegation, we believe the conduct ascribed to Senator Klein is thoroughly at odds with our experience as women working with him as well as his strong support for women's rights across NY and particularly in the 34th Senate District". The chance of a review by the Senate Ethics Committee is unlikely because members of that committee include IDC members who have already made public statements that they have "complete confidence in Senator Klein, and we stand by him". Klein sent a letter to JCOPE leaders Thursday asking for a probe.
I hope to help the women who might have been in a similar situation and who left [politics] like I did, to realize that they're not alone and they're probably not done with all of the things they could get done in government. "Klein has been at the forefront of equal rights for women, hired many women in the past, given them senior roles, opportunities and significant responsibilities, and has maintained a safe work environment for female staff".
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