Posted at: 09/04/2012 4:28 PM
| Updated at: 09/04/2012 5:16 PM
By: Bill Lambdin
The 14 member Joint Commission of Public Ethics (J-COPE) met today in an emergency session.
Meeting in Albany and four remote locations connected by teleconference, J-COPE voted to close their emergency meeting to outsiders.
Whether it's a police investigation or a state commission like J-COPE, confidentiality is the rule.
It is designed to protect people who are being probed but end up not being charged.
The Commission is believed, but will not confirm, to be investigating sexual harassment allegations against Assemblyman Vito Lopez, who has resigned his leadership role with Brooklyn Democrats but denies wrongdoing and remains a voting member of the state legislature.
When the Lopez scandal first developed, Speaker Sheldon Silver authorized a 103-thousand dollar payment of state money to two of the alleged victims and kept the matter confidential.
Subsequently as many as three other women came forward. The secret settlement was revealed and reaction exploded.
Now the J-COPE commission presumably is investigating and will produce a report.
This is the first significant test of the ethics board. 8 of 14 votes are needed to authorize and investigation, including two votes from commissioners named by legislative leaders of the same party as the investigative target.