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Jan 16, 5:11 PM EST

Lawmaker accused of harassment says investigation underway


ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- A powerful New York state senator accused of forcibly kissing a former staffer says a state ethics agency has launched an investigation into the allegation.

Sen. Jeff Klein, a Bronx Democrat, said Tuesday in Albany that he had been told by his lawyers that the Joint Commission on Public Ethics is investigating Erica Vladimer's accusations.

Klein's attorney, Michael Zweig, told Newsday on Tuesday that JCOPE officials have requested information and Klein is cooperating fully.

The 57-year-old Klein is leader of the Independent Democratic Conference, which shares power in the Senate with Republicans. The 30-year-old Vladimer claimed last week that Klein gave her an unwanted kiss outside an Albany bar in 2015.

Klein denies the allegation and has said he welcomes an investigation into Vladimer's accusation.

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