NY Ethics Committee: Steve McLaughlin violated sexual harassment policy

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Local assemblyman Steve McLaughlin is facing sanctions for allegedly breaking the rules when it came to the Assembly’s sexual harassment and confidentiality policy. 

The message was delivered in an email from Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie saying Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin would face sanctions after he allegedly violated the Assembly’s Policy on sexual harassment investigations. 

Assemblyman McLaughlin had been the focus of an ethics investigation after a female colleague accused him of asking for naked photos of herself. 

According to this letter written in June, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said McLaughlin been cleared of any violations.

So, what’s the problem now?  Heastie claims McLaughlin violated the rules when he allegedly named his accuser. 

“I never did. I didn’t utter a syllable about it. Where’s the proof that I did that?” McLaughlin said.

The Republican lawmaker who’s been an outspoken critic of Governor Andrew Cuomo and claims the sanctions which include not talk about the complainant are a political witch hunt. He blames a leak from with the ethics committee. 

“They then tried to pin that back in me saying well, you are the leak. I’m not the leak,” McLaughlin said.

This is all unrelated to leaked audio tapes of a nasty argument between him and his now former chief of staff. 

While running for Rensselaer County Executive, McLaughlin’s opponent demanded an investigation. 

McLaughlin feels this is a parting shot as he moves into his new role running the county.

It’s something Assemblyman John McDonald says the new county executive needs to consider. 

“He is going to be leading the county and he needs to make sure that the workplace is one that all are comfortable with. And I trust that he will do that,” Assemblyman McDonald said.

As for the sanctions themselves, they mean little as McLaughlin is set to start his new job as Rensselaer County Executive in January.

Statement from McLaughlin regarding the alleged violations:

“In what can only be described as a pathetic political hit job, a despicable element the New York State Assembly sunk to a new low when it used its Committee on Ethics and Guidance as a political weapon to release untrue, baseless and legally infirm allegations against me in an attempt to negatively impact my career as a public servant.

First, I categorically deny that I engaged in any sexual misconduct or violated any Assembly policy. After fully participating in the initial committee process on this identical issue, I received a letter from the Assembly dated June 23, 2017, in which this Committee sent a letter to the Assembly Speaker stating that  “there was no finding of a violation” of any Assembly policy (see attached letter). Despite this finding from several months ago, the renegade committee engaged in this unlawful conduct, which was in my view illegal.

As any lawmaker or their legal counsel should understand, New York Civil Rights Law section 73 is a McCarthy Era statute that is designed to protect the rights of any person who is subjected to an inquiry from a government committee that might illegally wield its power to defame and bully citizens, and leak information. The actions of this committee and its legal counsel are in my view exactly the kind of illegal conduct the law was designed to prevent. Nonetheless, it appears the committee knowingly violated the law.

Prior to this renegade committee’s actions, several weeks ago, on October 31, 2017, I instructed my attorney to report this potential criminal conduct to the Office of the Albany County District Attorney. This complaint is based on a violation of New York State Civil Rights Law section 73, a misdemeanor, a law designed to protect citizens from having their reputations ruined by wayward government committees.

Together with this media statement, in addition to the letter from the Assembly confirming there was no finding of sexual misconduct, I am also publicly releasing my sworn statement to the Committee and the letter sent last month from my attorney to District Attorney Soares (see attached).

Throughout my entire career I have not been shy to speak truth to power and battle for the people against deeply entrenched interests in Albany. I fully understood that by doing so, the entire weight of government power would come down on someone like me. However, I have never been deterred and I will not be deterred now. And, I will continue to speak truth to power — louder than ever — in my new role as the Rensselaer County Executive.

Frankly, thanks to the support of a majority of the citizens of Rensselaer County, I am especially excited to go to work for them and leave behind the deeply and perhaps hopelessly corrupted New York State government.

It is my sincere hope that by shining a light on this situation, and previously reporting this situation to District Attorney Soares, that he and other law enforcement officials will actively investigate and start to restore trust in government in the State of New York.  For this, the road ahead is very long, but let it start today.”

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