So that secret deal that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver made to keep a sexual harassment claim against Brooklyn Democratic powerbroker, Assemblyman Vito Lopez, quiet? It turns out that Silver paid $103,080 to settle the claims, according to the NY Times: "Several people said it was two women, not one, who were involved in the settlement that was negotiated among the state, Mr. Lopez’s representative and [the accusers' lawyer, Gloria] Allred. The settlement was paid by the state on June 13, about two and a half months before Mr. Lopez was censured by the Assembly based on the allegations that he sexually harassed two other women."

An interesting fact: The $103,080 amount is just a portion of what the settlement was, because "money controlled by Mr. Lopez was used as well, people with knowledge of the deal said — though it was not clear if it was from his personal finances, campaign money or money affiliated with his nonprofit group." But, to be certain, that $103,080 was taxpayer money—so you're paying for Lopez's gropezing. At least, we assume it's gropezing, because the incredibly powerful Silver did publicly censure Lopez (and strip him of a Committee chairmanship) last Friday, telling the 71-year-old about the staffer who said "you put your hand on her leg, she removed your hand, and you then put your hand between her upper thighs, putting your hand as far up between her legs as you could go."

Naturally, good government groups and the state Republican party are calling for an investigation and/or public review. NY Republican party chair Ed Cox said, "If in fact this goes back to the Assembly leadership, this is something where a special prosecutor is needed, or else the Democratic establishment is covering up a cover up. It was done to cover up what I assume was a crime and to settle it with hush money. That is a violation of the law," while the Citizens Union's Dick Dadey wants the Joint Commission on Public Ethics on the case, "Taxpayers should be funding public education, not to sweep harassment charges aside for bad elected officials. While we need to respect the wishes of the staff person, the public has a right to know when an elected official misbehaves and the state pays for it... This is just unfathomable that such deplorable behavior by an elected official could be kept from the public."

Lopez has insisted he's innocent, "The charges made against me are unfair and untrue. Never did I intentionally touch or attempt to kiss either of the complainants. I have never forced myself on anyone, nor would I." However, last week, a female Brooklyn political operative told the Post, "It was kind of known that he was grabby. And if you wanted to work for him, you had to be cute. He likes cute women." A former female staffer said another woman advised her to dress conservatively and recalled that Lopez seemed overly concerned about her boyfriend, "I thought he took a fatherly liking to me, but perhaps it was more."

Update: Lopez just announced—in angry CAPS BLOCK—that he won't seek re-election as the Brooklyn Democratic Party chair: "I HAVE NEVER SEXUALLY HARASSED ANY STAFF AND...INTEND TO PROVE IN THE COMING MONTHS THE POLITICAL NATURE OF THESE ACCUSATIONS...THE ONSLAUGHT OF CHARACTER ATTACKS HAS PUT ENORMOUS EMOTIONAL PRESSURES ON MY FAMILY AND CLOSE FRIENDS."