A New York Conservative Party lawmaker has been sanctioned for conducting a sexual relationship with a staffer and then retaliating against him when he broke off the affair and accused her of sexual harassment.
A bipartisan ethics panel sent a letter of admonishment to Angela Wozniak, a Cheektowaga conservative, and banned her from employing interns at the conclusion of an investigation that began in July, reported The Buffalo News.
The legislative panel also named an independent investigator to survey employees in Wozniak’s office every six months.
Wozniak, who turns 29 on Friday, was elected in 2011 to succeed former Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak in the wake of the Democratic lawmaker’s own sexual harassment scandal.
“She ran on a platform of family values based on the conduct of her predecessor,” said Monica Wallace, a Democrat who hopes to face Wozniak in the November election. “I hope to restore voters’ confidence in their government and be a leader they can be proud of.”
The affair between Wozniak, a married mother of one, and her legislative director Elias Farah began as a consensual relationship in early June, the panel found.
She continued to pursue a relationship with Farah after the staffer ended the affair later that month, and Wozniak then confessed to her husband.
The ethics committee learned of sexual harassment allegations July 2 and instructed an outside investigative firm to launch a probe.
The committee warned Wozniak in August not to retaliate against Farah or potential witnesses in the probe, but investigators said she barred her former lover from working in her Cheektowaga office or attending community events.
The panel also found that Wozniak had made false statements about his job performance to someone who had recommended him for another position.
Wozniak’s lawyer later released the accuser’s name to the media and threatened legal action “against anyone who maliciously defamed her.”
Investigators were unable to prove “quid quo pro” or “hostile work environment” sexual harassment, but the panel unanimously agreed Wozniak showed “incredibly poor judgment” by conducting the affair and then trying to damage Farah’s reputation.