Amy Hope Witryol, Democratic candidate for 62nd District state senator, called Friday for a state investigation of the relationship between her opponent, State Sen. George D. Maziarz, and the former aide whose alleged sexual harassment of a Senate employee cost the state $90,000.
Glenn S. Aronow, a former Maziarz staffer, was working in the Senate majority office in Buffalo in 2007, when a Lancaster woman said Aronow subjected her to “a daily campaign of sexual harassment.”
The state Attorney General’s Office settled the case with a $90,000 payout, $75,000 to the woman and $15,000 to her lawyer. The settlement involved no admission of wrongdoing.
Witryol said she finds the pattern similar to that in the case involving Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assemblyman Vito Lopez, which is currently being probed by the state’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics.
Silver worked out a $103,000 state payment to two women who said they were harassed and groped by Lopez, D-Brooklyn.
Maziarz, R-Newfane, said the Aronow situation is different because Lopez’s accusers never filed a lawsuit and Silver attempted to keep the whole episode secret.
Aronow’s accuser filed a State Supreme Court case on the public record in June 2009.
Witryol said she’s known about the matter for two years but didn’t raise the issue “to protect the victim and let the court do its job.”
Since The Buffalo News reported the settlement Friday, however, Witryol went ahead with her criticism “that the State of New York has been forced to pay $90,000 in taxpayer money to compensate a woman who was abused by a key employee of Sen. Maziarz.”
Maziarz said Aronow didn’t work for him at the time of the incidents. He said after Aronow left the Senate staff in 2008, he worked for the Buffalo Niagara Partnership for a year before joining the Maziarz staff in December 2009. Maziarz denied getting Aronow the Senate staff job in the first place.
He said he extended Aronow “a presumption of innocence” when he learned of the lawsuit after hiring him. But he told Aronow he’d have to resign if there was anything to the charges. Aronow resigned last November after informing Maziarz that settlement talks were under way.
Witryol said Aronow continues to be a political operative for Maziarz. He circulated nominating petitions this summer for Maziarz on the Conservative Party line and for candidates on the Working Families and Green Party lines.
“He was a political volunteer,” Maziarz said.
Witryol won the Working Families primary; there was no Green primary. She said, “This raises serious questions about Maziarz’s judgment and ethics. The Aronow-Maziarz relationship goes to the core of how Albany operates. This status quo must change. New York families deserve better.”