Sen. Jeff Klein accused of forcibly kissing staffer

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The controversy has the potential to impact the power-sharing arrangement in the Senate, which along with the Assembly is expected to take on sexual harassment during the 2018 session.

Sen. Jeff Klein was accused earlier this week by Erica Vladimer of forcibly kissing her outside an Albany bar in the early spring of 2015.

"Those of you who know me, know that I would not have remained silent", said Savino.

"I immediately called for an independent investigation".

"I want to be crystal clear: This alleged incident never happened nor did anything inappropriate happen in any fashion that evening", Klein said on the call.

Klein said he didn't know the staffer well and recalled an exchange that night in which she repeatedly invited him to spend Passover with her family, a request he found oddly personal. "In my head it lasted forever, I don't think it lasted even three seconds".

"I have nothing to hide and welcome any investigation", he said. But he leads a powerful faction of Democrats who have co-led the Senate in partnership with Republicans since 2012, even when Democrats have had more members than Republicans. A ninth Democrat, Simcha Felder, also caucuses with the Republicans but is not a member of the IDC. His fellow IDC members have come out in support of Klein, including Sen.

The Bronx Senator now joins the flood of political, media and entertainment-industry figures who have been accused of sexually harassing women.

The accuser identified herself in a Huffington Post story.

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Vladimer said she continued to tell him no, but he kept responding, "What?"

Klein held a hastily arranged conference call late Wednesday afternoon just before Vladimer's accusations were first reported online in a story by the Huffington Post.

The Senate Ethics and Internal Governance Committee could be the investigatory body to look into the alleged incident, though questions are being raised about whether IDC senators on that committee - Diane Savino, David Carlucci and David Valesky - should recuse themselves.

The allegations against Klein come as numerous women have come forward in recent months to allege sexual misconduct against high profile celebrities and politicians. Jeff Klein (D) "shoved his tongue" down her throat while she was working on his staff. Klein said a Huffington Post reporter had ed him about a "serious allegation" against him but said no formal complaint was made.

Savino noted the big window at the front of the bar would allow people to see outside clearly and would have acted in response if the incident had occurred.

"I find her to be a honest and credible person who was clearly very shaken about what happened to her that she made the decision to leave state government in Albany because of it", Krueger told HuffPost.

I hope to help the women who might have been in a similar situation and who left [politics] like I did, to realize that they're not alone and they're probably not done with all of the things they could get done in government.

Vladimer has called on Klein to "step up", adding that if he doesn't, "then he should definitely step down". "Klein has been at the forefront of equal rights for women, hired many women in the past, given them senior roles, opportunities and significant responsibilities, and has maintained a safe work environment for female staff".

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