The City Council’s Committee on Standards and Ethics has slapped Bronx Councilmember Andy King with findings that he harassed his aides and retaliated against them, compared LGBTQ Pride celebrations to pedophilia, and blurred the lines between work and personal life, among other stunning conclusions stemming from a probe into his actions.
The committee recommended in a report unveiled publicly by the Council on October 23 that the disgraced councilmember be fined $15,000, stripped of all committee assignments and leadership posts, suspended for 30 days, and subjected to an oversight monitor to closely watch him throughout the rest of his term.
The eye-popping report sparked immediate outrage among out gay lawmakers, with at least one member of the LGBT Caucus — Jimmy Van Bramer of Queens — immediately calling for King’s resignation or expulsion from the Council.
Council Speaker Corey Johnson did not immediately follow suit, but on October 24 joined Mayor Bill de Blasio in saying the Bronx lawmaker should go.
According to the report, King, whose hesitation to embrace queer causes has been evident in his pattern of abstaining from LGBTQ-related bills, told a staffer who mistakenly posted a Pride photo to King’s account in 2015 that “I don’t approve of this behavior… to me, this is the same as child pornography.”
“By making such an egregious statement at a staff meeting, the committee finds that Council Member King engaged in harassment on the basis of sexual orientation and/ or gender identity in violation of the policy,” the report stated.
The 48-page report also said King, who represents Wakefield, Olinville, Edenwald, Eastchester, Williamsbridge, Baychester, and Co-op City, directed his aides to use their personal vehicles to drive him around without reimbursement and that he retaliated against staffers who dared to cooperate with an investigation into his actions. The report described a councilmember who took actions strikingly similar to those carried out by President Donald Trump: King fired multiple staffers “in order to further frustrate and impede” an investigation, according to the findings.
Van Bramer’s swift response came in a tweet early on October 23: “King’s behavior is horrifying & fundamentally disqualifying: if he does not resign immediately, the Council should expel him. To the employees he abused, degraded & retaliated against: I’m so sorry you had to go through this. To the people he supposedly serves: you deserve better.”
A day before calling on King to step aside, Johnson told Gay City News in written statement that the charges and evidence against him “are serious and deeply troubling.”
“I thank the members of the Committee on Standards and Ethics for handling this case in a thoughtful and even-handed manner,” Johnson added. “The Council will consider the committee’s recommendations carefully before voting on this important matter.”
Also on October 24, the Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City demanded King’s resignation in a tweet saying, “Clean out your desk and go home.”
The extensive report laid out example after example of disturbing actions that will undoubtedly cast a dark cloud over the remainder of King’s tenure as a councilmember.
In addition to charges of harassment and retaliation, a disorderly conduct finding against King describes his failure to take action against a supervisor on his staff who intimidated subordinates, shouted at them, once “attempted to put his hand against the staffer’s chest,” and engaged in verbal altercations that prompted aides to cry.
In another conclusion involving conflicts of interests, King was found to have allowed his wife, Neva Shillingford-King, to help manage his staff, use his government email account, and steer Council resources toward her employer, Labor Union Local 1199.
The report further stated that in 2017, King and his wife used Council money and resources on a “retreat” to the US Virgin Islands.
It is not immediately clear when the Council plans to move forward with a vote in response to the allegations. Standards and Ethics Committee Chair Steven Matteo, who has his own troubling record on LGBTQ issues, did not respond to a request for comment on the report.
King did not return requests for comment.