Although a vote to expel Bronx City Councilmember Andy King failed, the Council overwhelmingly opted to suspend, fine, and further penalize him following an explosive investigative report concluded that he retaliated against his staff, harassed them with homophobic remarks, and blew city cash on personal trips to the US Virgin Islands, among other egregious actions.
City lawmakers voted 44-1, with two abstentions, on a resolution put forth in a report from the City Council’s Committee on Standards and Ethics calling for a slew of penalties, including a 30-day suspension without pay, a $15,000 fine, and the appointment of a monitor to oversee the Bronx lawmaker for the rest of his term.
But King, who the committee’s report says once described an LGBTQ Pride as “the same as child pornography” and told his aide he did not “approve of this behavior,” had faced the possibility of getting booted from the lawmaking body altogether. Out gay Queens Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer continued to be the most forceful voice against King when he initiated a motion to expel him from the Council, saying, “For me, there is no doubt in my mind that given that this is not a first offense and given the severity of everything included in this report, I believe expulsion is warranted.”
Out gay Brooklyn Councilmember Carlos Menchaca joined Van Bramer, as did 10 others, though the expulsion vote faltered by a 34-12 margin, with Brooklyn Councilmember Mathieu Eugene being the lone abstention. Two other members of the LGBT Caucus, Speaker Corey Johnson and Bronx Councilmember Ritchie Torres, said they opposed the expulsion measure out of respect for the recommendations presented by the committee. Torres still ripped King, saying that he resents his “Trumpian insinuation” that he is somehow the victim of a witch hunt, and Johnson last week called for King’s resignation.
In his remarks, King denied the allegations of homophobia, strongly rejected the charges presented by the committee, and boasted of the goodwill he says he enjoys with his staff and others.
That didn’t sway any of his colleagues. The vote to suspend King was expectedly lopsided: He was the only member present to vote against the resolution, while Councilmembers Inez Barron of Brooklyn and Daneek Miller of Queens abstained. Homophobic Bronx Councilmember Ruben Diaz, Sr., was among four lawmakers who were absent.
Under other terms of the resolution, King will be stripped of all committee assignments and his aides who were terminated from his staff will be able to resume their old jobs. King’s wife, Neva Shillingford-King, will be barred from attending staff meetings, giving directions to the councilmember’s staff, or using Council funds for non-Council business after she was accused of wrongdoing in the committee’s report — steering funds to Local 1199, the union where she works. In accordance with the committee’s recommendations, King will also be forced to undergo “appropriate training.”
According to the report, the committee could reopen disciplinary proceedings if King does not comply with the recommendations or follow directives issued by the monitor.