In February, rookie Assemblywoman Angela M. Wozniak of Cheektowaga told her constituents that she was on a mission to “clean up our Legislature.”
Now, the Ethics Committee is investigating a sexual harassment complaint against her.
The matter, first reported by Time Warner Cable News, involves staffer Elias A. Farah’s allegations of a coerced relationship with the 28-year-old Wozniak, a Conservative Party member who on her Assembly website says she is married with a child. Farah, 29, ran unsuccessfully as a Republican for the Erie County Legislature in 2013.
A source who has heard of the complaint told The News that the Assembly Ethics and Guidance Committee discussed the Wozniak matter when the panel met Aug. 19. Ethics Committee Chairman Charles Lavine, a Long Island Democrat, refused to comment Thursday.
Calls placed to Wozniak and her attorney in the matter, Steven M. Cohen, were not immediately returned. But Cohen told the website Politico that action will be taken against anyone “maliciously defaming the assemblywoman.”
In an odd twist, sexual harassment complaints opened the door for Wozniak. Longtime incumbent Dennis Gabryszak, D-Cheektowaga, resigned in January 2014 after former female aides complained of coarse and suggestive language over several years and filed claims against him.
Wozniak, who had been elected to the Cheektowaga Town Board, ran for the post on a platform built on cleaning up Albany’s notorious pay-to-play culture. With the Republican, Conservative and Independence lines, she won a surprising victory in an Assembly district that had elected Democrats for decades.
As a member of the Assembly’s Republican minority conference, Wozniak has little power to pass reforms. But when the 2015 legislative session began with the arrest of longtime Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, Wozniak assured her constituents that she came to Albany to clean things up.
“I plan to fight for the ethics reforms you deserve,” she said in a video that can be found on YouTube. She repeated her support for term limits and harsher penalties for state politicians who violate the public’s trust.