Judge rejects Jeff Klein’s effort to end sex harass probe

One-time Albany powerbroker Jeff Klein failed Thursday to escape a legal quandary of his own making when a state appellate judge blocked his attempt to end a five-year-old sexual harassment investigation by a state ethics agency.

The probe was ironically launched at the then-state senator’s request in 2018 after former staffer Erica Vladimer accused him of forcibly kissing her outside an Albany bar three years earlier.

“I am prepared to fully cooperate with your inquiry in an effort to resolve this allegation made against me,” Klein wrote the Joint Commission on Public Ethics on Jan. 11, 2018 while demanding “an independent investigation.”

While JCOPE — which had a reputation as a nothing oversight body — took up the case, its nominal effort languished behind closed doors for years before Klein sued the agency in 2020 in an effort to end the probe when the much-criticized watchdog found the allegation credible.

Jeff Klein speaking in front of a camera with a blurry background with the word "daycare" behind him
A state appellate court ruled against ex-state Sen. Jeff Klein and his effort to end an ethics probe that began five years ago.
Stephen Yang

The case was still moving through the courts when Albany lawmakers replaced JCOPE last year with a new ethics body called the New York State Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government, which Klein argued could not pursue the matters previously before the defunct JCOPE.

A lower court ruled otherwise in 2021, a decision upheld this week by the Supreme Court, Appellate Division Third Judicial Department.

[His] remaining assertions have been considered and are unavailing,” reads the four-page ruling.

A spokeswoman for the newly-created ethics agency said Friday that the “matter remains pending before the Commission.”

Former state Senate staffer Erica Vladimer says she wants the state ethics watchdog to hold Klein responsible for allegedly kissing her against her will in 2015.
Angel Chevrestt

Klein and his attorney did not immediately return requests for comment Friday regarding whether he will appeal the ruling, which was first reported by the Albany Times Union.

The former leader of the Independent Democratic Conference, a breakaway group of Democrats who gained their own power base by helping Republicans keep control of the state Senate for years, lost his Bronx seat in 2018.

He now lobbies his former colleagues despite the cloud of scandal hanging over him.

The very granite Robert Abrams Building for Law and Justice in Albany  next door to other government buildings near the state Capitol
The Albany-based Supreme Court, Appellate Division Third Judicial Department ruled against Klein on March 9, but it remains unclear whether he will appeal.
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Klein appeared in no mood on March 1 to discuss the outstanding accusation by Vladimer – who is co-founder of the Sexual Harassment Working Group that helped overhaul state sexual harassment laws in 2019 – when he dashed away after a brief interview with The Post as he exited the Capitol.

Vladimer said Friday that she awaits the day when the state ethics commission will demonstrate that it is really aiming to hold Klein accountable for his alleged actions.

“Five years ago Klein asked for an ethics investigation and when it didn’t go his way, he used the NY courts to delay delay delay It’s time for Klein to stop evading accountability,” she told The Post.