The head of the state Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference has hired the firm of Loeb & Loeb to conduct an investigation into an allegation that he forcibly kissed a staff member in 2015.
During a conference call with reporters Wednesday afternoon, state Sen. Jeff Klein—a Bronx Democrat and former name partner of Bronx-based Klein Calderoni & Santucci, a malpractice and elder law firm—repeatedly denied the accusation made against him by a former staff member, whom he did not identify, who claimed that Klein forcibly kissed her on March 31, 2015.
“I want to be crystal clear: This alleged incident never happened nor did anything inappropriate happen in any fashion that evening. Period,” Klein said.
Klein hired Michael Zweig and Mark Goldberg of Loeb & Loeb to conduct a preliminary investigation, which included interviews with staff members and members of his conference.
Klein and state Sen. Diane Savino, a Democrat from Staten Island, convened the conference call with reporters before the Huffington Post was slated to publish an article with the allegations by a former staffer, Klein said.
In the Huffington Post article, Erica Vladimer, who according to an official bio holds a J.D. from the Touro Law Center and formerly was an educational policy analyst and counsel for the Independent Democratic Caucus, claimed that Klein “shoved his tongue” into her mouth at an Albany bar in March 2015.
“All of a sudden there was a hand on the back of my head and he shoved his tongue down my throat,” she said. “In my head it lasted forever, I don’t think it lasted even three seconds,” she told the Huffington Post in an interview.
The Bronx Democrat, who leads a breakaway faction of Democrats, said the staff member never filed a complaint against him. He does not anticipate filing a lawsuit against her, he added.
Savino, who has been romantically involved with Klein, said she had been with him the night of the alleged incident, which the staffer claims was outside of a well-known Albany bar.
“To insinuate that it would have occurred in front of me, and those of you who know me know I wouldn’t have remained silent,” Savino said.
In a memorandum dated Jan. 10, 2018, Klein’s lawyers wrote that “it defies both reason and credibility to suggest Sen. Klein would have, in full view of both his longtime girlfriend, numerous staff members, and in the middle of a very visible and public street, assaulted the former staffer, as her allegation suggests.”