Former staffer accuses Jeff Klein of forcing a kiss

Jeffrey David Klein

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.

A former staffer named Erica Vladimer says Klein forcibly kissed her at an Albany bar on March 31, 2015. Krueger that this disturbing situation should be investigated, and I believe it shoudl be done immediately and independently.

"This alleged incident never happened nor did anything inappropriate happen in any fashion that", Klein said.

In a memo following a preliminary investigation by his firm, Klein's attorney claims his client, staffers and Klein's girlfriend, Senator Diane Savino, were celebrating the passage of the state budget on March 31 almost 3 years ago. Diane Savino - described as an "unprecedented" invitation that Klein declined.

I think Senator Klein needs to step up. A ninth Democrat, Simcha Felder, also caucuses with the Republicans but is not a member of the IDC.

Vladimer worked for Klein from 2013 to 2015, starting as a fellow and later becoming a policy analyst and counsel for the IDC.

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

On Tuesday, Krueger said Vladimer called her to tell her the Huffington Post article would publish Wednesday. On her Facebook page last October, after the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment story broke, she posted on her Facebook page: "To the women in my life, and to those I connected with in years past - I promise to find a way to break my silence, and I promise to help you find the strength to break yours, too".

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The staffer has gone to a reporter for the Huffington Post saying that he forcibly tried to kiss her outside a bar one night. Savino, D-Staten Island, confirmed she was with Klein in the Albany bar the night the alleged incident occurred. She said it never happened, and that she knows him "better than anybody".

Her friend, who chose to remain anonymous, said, "She was hysterically crying, not able to breathe, couldn't catch her breath".

Klein says he has hired an attorney to review the claim, but is not expecting a lawsuit.

A sexual harassment claim against an influential state Senator who leads a breakaway Democratic faction has come as a potential power struggle looms in that chamber and Gov. Andrew Cuomo gird for battles on numerous topics, including sexual harassment.

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. Vladimer didn't come forward earlier, she added, because she felt ashamed about what happened, and feared she caused the kiss to happen, according to the news outlet.

"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.

"We fully support the courageous women that have come forward in this historic moment to bring sexual misconduct to the forefront of our national conversation", the letter read.

In November, four top state Democratic officials that Klein and Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins reunify as co-leaders upon winning anticipated post-budget special elections.

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