It’s one thing to cover for a co-worker. But keeping a colleague’s personal escapades quiet with the liberal application of hush money, when ethics regulations demand otherwise, is completely unacceptable.
Assemblyman Shelly Silver’s admission of moral culpability in keeping a lid on the sexual harassment case against Assemblyman Vito Lopez may prove too little, too late.
It seems that harassment charges against Lopez were dropped after a settlement was reached, with Sheldon’s involvement, to the tune of $103,000 in public funds.
We at the Jewish Voice ask: Have you no shame, sir?
Vito’s alleged behavior, if substantiated, brings shame on politicians everywhere, reaffirming the unfortunate stereotypes regarding politicians that exist in the minds of many voters. Silver’s conduct, by his own admission, is also unbecoming of his office. It’s also unbecoming of a member of the Jewish people, especially an observant one, kal vachomer one in a high-profile position.
Such disgraceful conduct, even when it’s to protect someone who may or may not have done something even worse, is nonetheless a chillul Hashem in itself.
Some may find it unfair to suggest that Jews be held to a higher ethical standard than their non-Jewish peers. But the fact is that people look at one or two Jews, and consciously or not, the start making connections and drawing conclusions. One Bernie Madoff, and suddenly we’re all potential thieves. One scandal with Sheldon Silver, even in a tangential role, and suddenly we’re all behind-the-scenes schemers. It’s not logical, and it’s not reasonable. But it’s the way things have been for millennia, and that’s why Jewish tradition has a built-in hypersensitivity to ethical behavior, going so far as to forbid the appearance of impropriety (ma’aris ayin), even where none was committed.
Shelly Silver says he “welcomes” a more in-depth investigation by the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics.
So do we, Mr. Silver. So do we.