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NYC Council expels Andy King over latest harassment, ethics violations

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 10/5/2020 Stephen Rex Brown, Shant Shahrigian

After years of complaints, Councilman Andy King’s reign has come to an end.

The New York City Council expelled King (D-Bronx) on Monday over charges he harassed and discriminated against a female employee, took a kickback from another staffer and failed to pay a fine for previous misconduct.

“All reasonable alternatives have been exhausted and drastic action is now our only option,” Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan) said at a Council meeting that was held online. “King’s behavior is unfixable and if we do not take the action recommended by the committee, we are likely to be back here in a few months.”

The 48-2 vote to expel King resulted from the third investigation into his conduct in less than three years.

In the latest case, the Council’s Ethics Committee found he’d forced a female staffer to go on unpaid leave after she complained of menstrual bleeding, at one point making the offensive remark, “put a Band-Aid on it.” The staffer eventually resigned in frustration.

King gave a different employee a $9,500 one-time payment with Council funds — and demanded a $2,000 kickback in return, according to a 68-page report from the Ethics Committee.

Lastly, the panel found King refused to accept part of the punishment he received last year for separate violations. He tried to thwart a monitor who was placed in his office and said sexist remarks and profanity to her, the Ethics Committee found. He also failed to pay a $15,000 fine that went with his month-long suspension at the time, the panel said.

King sounded a self-pitying note as he rejected each of the charges.

“Why am I being attacked like this?” he said. “I do not want to be a martyr. I just want to continue to serve the residents of the 12th district.”

During his rambling half-hour remarks, he said an unnamed “white colleague” previously called him the n-word.

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“If you consider me a [n-word], then I guess it doesn’t matter what strategies you put together to make my life miserable," King said.

Shortly after the vote, King sued the Council in federal court in Manhattan, alleging racial discrimination. Johnson’s office did not immediately answer a request for comment on the suit.

a man wearing a suit and tie: New York Councilman Andy King is pictured outside the 216 Deli in the Bronx in this file photo. © Luiz C. Ribeiro New York Councilman Andy King is pictured outside the 216 Deli in the Bronx in this file photo.

New York Councilman Andy King is pictured outside the 216 Deli in the Bronx in this file photo. (Luiz C. Ribeiro/)

Last October, the Council took the unusual step of suspending King for 30 days for harassing staff; using Council resources on his stepdaughter’s Virgin Islands wedding; and enabling his wife, a union big, to help run his office to her own benefit, among other charges.

King was defiant at the time, likening the punishment to a “lynching.” Some members called for him to be expelled, though a motion to do so from Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Queens) was voted down.

“Andy King should have been expelled from the City Council a long time ago,” Van Bramer said Monday. “The body failed a test of leadership.”

Other than King himself, the only Council member who voted against the resolution to expel him was perennially controversial Councilman Rubén Díaz Sr. (D-Bronx).

The first Council investigation into King came in December 2017. He was ordered to take sensitivity training after the Council substantiated allegations of sexual harassment from a female staffer.

Monday marked the first time in modern memory that the Council voted to expel one of its own members. In previous cases, Council members such as Ruben Wills of Queens have been automatically expelled, without any vote taken, over felony convictions.

King’s infractions and the long process of bringing them to light prompted calls for reform of the Council’s sexual harassment policies. Last year, the Council commissioned an audit of its practices, though findings are yet to be shared publicly. The King case also helped spark Council staffers' efforts to unionize, though those have stalled.

Asked whether King’s case would be referred to prosecutors, a Council spokesperson said in an email: "The appropriate authorities have been made aware of these allegations.”

A special election for a replacement for King, who represented the northeast Bronx, is expected in the coming months.


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