Vito Lopez, the former assemblyman and Brooklyn Democratic boss who was forced from office after being accused of sexually harassing his staffers, filed petitions to run again for his position as a district leader and state committeeman, according to Board of Elections documents. And Assemblyman Micah Kellner, the Upper East Side pol who chose not to seek re-election after his own sexual harassment scandal, also moved forward with his state committee bid after the Observer first reported his intentions in May.
Despite his fall from the Assembly, Mr. Lopez is still a district leader and state committeeman in his old Williamsburg and Bushwick-based district. The unpaid posts have relatively little power–they play a role in nominating judges and, in the case of district leader, voting for the chair of the local party. In Brooklyn, unlike other boroughs, district leaders also serve simultaneously as state committeemen.
For Mr. Lopez, remaining a district leader is a way for him to still stay relevant in local politics after his precipitous fall last year, sources say. Mr. Lopez currently has no opponent and candidates have until Thursday night to file petitions.
Once a major power broker in Albany, Mr. Lopez was stripped of his committee chairmanship and pressured to resign his seat after several female staffers came forward to charge that the Brooklyn pol forcefully groped, kissed and threatened them.
Mr. Lopez failed to win a City Council seat after leaving Albany and even mulled a run against his successor, Assemblywoman Maritza Davila, before settling on petitioning for district leader and state committee, sources say.
Like Mr. Lopez, Mr. Kellner’s political career was derailed by sexual harassment allegations that emerged last year. A front-runner for a City Council seat, Mr. Kellner fell to now-Councilman Ben Kallos and announced this year he wouldn’t run for re-election in the Assembly.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver shuttered Mr. Kellner’s district offices and slashed all of his staff budget in June. Mr. Silver also said that Mr. Kellner hired an intern for his Manhattan office after being told he could no longer do that. Mr. Kellner, who apologized for his actions, said Mr. Silver was carrying out the “politics of personal destruction.”
Still, sources say Mr. Kellner does not want to completely leave the Upper East Side political scene despite becoming a persona non grata there. He filed petitions to run as a state committeeman and a judicial delegate. (He is also a sitting district leader and will be up for re-election for that post next year.)
“He wants to get really involved in judicial politics and making judges,” a local Democrat with knowledge of Mr. Kellner’s plans told the Observer in May. “He wants to prove he has the ability to stay relevant and make judicial candidates talk to Micah if you want to be a judge.”
Mr. Kellner did not immediately return a request for comment. Mr. Lopez could not be reached for comment.
This story has been updated to reflect that Mr. Kellner did not deny all wrongdoing after he was charged with sexually harassing a staffer.