NY GRASSROOTS COALITION STATEMENT ON THE SEXUAL ASSAULT ALLEGATIONS AGAINST IDC STATE SENATOR JEFF KLEIN
January 11, 2018 — *For Immediate Release*
NEW YORK, NY — Dozens of grassroots groups join together today to call on State Senator Jeff Klein to step down after serious allegations of sexual misconduct against him by a former staffer, Erica Vladimer. The #MeToo movement has empowered women all over the world to courageously come forward to expose sexual harassment and abuse in every industry, not least in our own government. Ms. Vladimer’s accusations are credible, and Senator Klein’s dismissive attitude and eagerness to impugn her character are only further signs he neither understands nor cares about the seriousness of sexual misconduct in the workplace.
Sexual misconduct in our state government was already an urgent matter before these allegations against Senator Klein. Following Governor Cuomo’s insulting and evasive answer to a female reporter on the topic in December, he laid out plans in his State of the State to revise the codes of conduct for all branches of government. As leader of the breakaway IDC, Senator Klein would be a central player in these negotiations, and in the upcoming budget. As New Yorkers, we cannot trust someone accused of forcibly kissing a staffer to negotiate the guidelines for sexual harassment in this state.
As Governor Cuomo himself stated, ‘There must be zero tolerance for sexual harassment in any workplace, and we can and will end the secrecy and coercive practices that have enabled harassment for far too long.’ We call on the governor to hold Senator Klein and any other accused member of state government to his own standard.
Senate Democratic Leader Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the first woman leader of a New York State Legislative Conference, recently introduced comprehensive legislation with Senate Democrats to combat sexual harassment in government. New Yorkers must know that these important bills will not be undermined or dismissed. As Senator Tim Kennedy said, ‘Anyone who holds the public’s trust must also be held to a higher standard of behavior. As elected officials, we have a responsibility to represent the voices of our communities and lead by example. As such, if a public officer commits sexual harassment, they should be punished accordingly.’
The current process for investigations in the New York State Legislature is unacceptably and irreparably compromised. In addition to a history of weak and politicized responses to conduct violations, three other members of the IDC who immediately came out publicly in Senator Klein’s defense sit on the Ethics Committee. Therefore we feel the only appropriate recourse is for Senator Klein to resign.
This year’s Legislative Session is one of the most important in history. Both the Governor and the Senate Democrats have pledged that they will do everything in their power to put an end to sexual misconduct in NY. No person credibly accused of sexual misconduct should be involved in that crucial work.
Action Together Northern Westchester
Croton in Action
Empire State Indivisible
Enough is Enough PAC
Grassroots Action NY
Indivisible We Stand
Indivisible Yorktown NY
Lead Blue NY
Morningside Heights Resistance
New York Communities for Change
No IDC NY
North Brooklyn Progressive Democrats
Northern Westchester Indivisible
NY Progressive Action Network
NYC Solidarity Sundays
NYSD 17 for Progress
Our Movement — The Future
PEER (Progressive East End Reformers)
Postcards for America, New York
Principled Progressives of Orange County
Rise and Resist
Rockland Citizens Action Network
Sister District of Western New York
SOUTH ASIAN FUND FOR EDUCATION,SCHOLARSHIP AND TRAINING (SAFEST)
Take Back 20
The Creative Resistance
The Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club
True Blue NY
United Thru Action
Uptown Community Democrats
We Make America