ALBANY, N.Y. (WIVB) — A local assemblywoman is set to be sanctioned by the New York State Assembly over her conduct while in office.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie announced Wednesday he implementing sanctions against 28-year-old Assemblywoman Angela Wozniak after claims of sexual harassment surfaced against her, leading the Cheektowaga-based lawmaker to dismiss her Director of Legislation.
Heastie said sanctions have been approved by the New York State Assembly Ethics and Guidance Committee, including publicly admonishing Wozniak on behalf of the assembly following the conclusion of an investigation.
The investigation indicated Wozniak broke New York’s policy that prohibits harassment, discrimination and retaliation, concerning conduct related to retaliation.
Assembly officials say they will work to find a similar position for Wozniak’s former staffer to fill, but until a new position is created, Wozniak’s office will be required to pay his former salary for up to a year.
Moving forward, the sanctions will prevent Wozniak from hiring any interns to work in her office. Her employees will also need to undergo surveys by an independent investigator semi-annually to make sure there are no future violations of conduct.
Wozniak will also be forced to attend a sexual harassment and retaliation prevention training.
Legal representation for Wozniak sent a statement on the sanctions, refuting any claims of sexual harassment.
“She did have a mutual and consensual relationship with an adult senior staffer, which is why the assembly ethics committee in paragraph number five determined that there was not enough evidence to find her guilty of sexual harassment, or quid pro quo, or hostile work environment.”
On Thursday, Wozniak’s attorney said she was “pleased and not at all surprised” that she was cleared of charges. Wozniak will seek re-election to her position in the next race, according to her attorney.
Read the full statement from Litigation Chair Steven Cohen here:
Assemblymember Wozniak is pleased and not at all surprised that she was cleared by the Ethics Committee of any and all charges for sexual harassment, sexual quid-pro-quo or causing a sexually hostile work environment. (p. 3, par 5 of Ethics Report dated March 8, 2016 [“Ethics Committee Report”])
Ms. Wozniak is prohibited by the Assembly Ethics Committee from responding to the finding that she made false statements to one person that “reflected poorly on the employee’s job performance.” (p. 3, par. 4 of Ethics Committee Report; p. 4, numbered par. 2 of the Ethics Committee Report; p. 2, 4th un-numbered paragraph of March 9th Sanction letter by Carl E. Heastie [“Heastie Letter”])
Ms. Wozniak is prohibited by the Assembly Ethics Committee from responding substantively to the finding that she “prohibited [her accuser] from working in the District office” while Ms. Wozniak was present, or prohibited her accuser from “attending community meetings while she was present” (p. 3, par. 3 and p. 4, numbered par. 2 of the Ethics Committee Report; p. 2, 4th un-numbered paragraph of Heastie Letter), except to say that the Assemblywoman’s physically distancing herself from her accuser was at the advice and instruction of her legal counsel.
The Ethics Committee is mistaken in its finding that Ms. Wozniak’s counsel “told the press the name of the [accuser].” The media approached Ms. Wozniak’s attorney with the name of the accuser prior to any utterance by counsel of the accuser’s name, which was only raised by counsel as a confirmation of data already in the possession of the media from other sources. Recipients of this Statement are encouraged to contact Ryan Whalen at YNN and George Richert formerly of WIVB-Buffalo for confirmation of that fact. Evidence of this was given to the Ethics Committee.
Assemblywoman Angela Wozniak continued to represent and advocate for her constituents without interruption throughout the investigation and looks forward to continuing to do so without distraction now that the matter is closed.
Angela Wozniak is grateful for the overwhelming support she has received by the residents of the Towns of Cheektowaga and Lancaster and the Village of Depew whom she has been diligently serving in the Assembly since December of 2014. She served with distinction as a Councilmember for the Town of Cheektowaga since 2012. Having won two prior elections, Ms. Wozniak looks forward to running for re-election to the Assembly in the upcoming race.
The embattled assemblywoman issued her own response in a one-minute video, saying she was happy with the overall outcome of the investigation but apologizing to her constituents.