Assemblymember O’Donnell ordered to undergo retraining

Daniel O'Donnell represents Manhattan's District 69 in the New York State Assembly.
Daniel O’Donnell represents Manhattan’s District 69 in the New York State Assembly.
Donna Aceto

Out gay Assemblymember Daniel O’Donnell of Manhattan has been ordered to undergo retraining after an investigation by the Ethics Committee concluded that he violated the lower chamber’s policy against harassment, discrimination, and retaliation.

The Ethics Committee appointed independent investigator Danielle J. Marlow to probe O’Donnell, who represents Manhattan’s Upper West Side, after the committee received reports of potential violations of the policy, according to a letter delivered by the Ethics Committee to Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie on Sept. 11.

Marlow issued a report to the committee at its June 7 meeting and O’Donnell subsequently appeared in front of the committee alongside counsel on Aug. 28. The committee said O’Donnell admitted that he made “crude” remarks when he was under stress, though it is not clear when he made those remarks or the context.

Spectrum News reported that O’Donnell told Assemblymember Catalina Cruz to “grow a pair, honey” following an Assembly Codes Committee meeting in May. It is not clear if that alleged incident was related to the investigation.

O’Donnell declined to comment on Sept. 14, but a spokesperson told Gay City News that the lawmaker “is committed to maintaining better decorum during future engagements.”

A spokesperson for Ethics Committee Chair Joann Simon did not respond to Gay City News’ request for comment.

O’Donnell cooperated throughout the investigation, the committee said, and the recommendation was issued “based on the report and testimony, and given Member O’Donnell’s admirable career, lack of prior violations, and demonstrated contrition.”

Heastie announced on Sept. 13 that he accepted the full recommendation and ordered O’Donnell to follow through on the training.

O’Donnell, who has served in the Assembly for two decades, was a key leader in the fight for marriage equality in New York State and was the prime sponsor of the Dignity for All Students Act, an anti-bullying measure. Earlier this year, O’Donnell called on Governor Kathy Hochul to bar all non-essential travel to states that had recently approved anti-trans legislation.