ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) _ An upstate New York activist is pressing a lawsuit against Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, claiming the powerful Democrat misused taxpayer money to protect his own political interests.

Robert Schulz, who isn't a lawyer, has accused Silver of illegally and secretly settling a sexual harassment case against Assemblyman Vito Lopez for $103,000.

A judge will decide in coming days whether the case will continue. The first court appearance was Monday.

Schulz argues public money can't be used for a ``private undertaking.''

Assembly staff said Silver's settlement was legal and part of routine practice. The women who brought the suit had sought far more.

Lopez has denied sexually harassing anyone. He paid an additional $32,000 on his own to settle the womens' suit.