New York taxpayers have already shelled out $103,080 to settle two sexual harassment claims leveled at disgraced former Brooklyn Assemblyman Vito Lopez, and now we get to pay for Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's legal defense. The Daily News reports that Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has approved payment of $500/hour to Silver's attorney, Bettina Plevan, to defend the speaker against a civil suit brought by Lopez's former staffers, who claim that Silver's coverup of the payments led to continued abuse.
A report completed by Staten Island DA Daniel Donovan Jr. released in May stated that while there wasn't enough evidence for criminal charges to be filed against Lopez or Silver, it did note that Silver's primary concern throughout the affair was "mitigating the Assembly’s damages. That goal outweighed any interest in investigating or disciplining Assembly Member Lopez or in preventing similar occurrences in the future."
The state attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, can't represent Silver because his office signed off on the secret settlements in the first place. Considering that Silver's defense could cost as much as $1,250/hour, $500 (and $200/hour for paralegals) seems like a bargain—just the cost of doing business in Albany.